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G.K. Chesterton, The Thing 
CONTENTS 

1 . INTRODUCTION 

2. THE SCEPTIC AS CRITIC 

3. Is HUMANISM A RELIGION? 

4. THE DRIFT FROM DOMESTICITY 

5. LOGIC AND LAWN TENNIS 

6. OBSTINATE ORTHODOXY 

7. THE USUAL ARTICLE 

8 . WHY I AM A CATHOLIC 

9. WHAT DO THEY THINK? 

10. THE MASK OF THE AGNOSTIC 

11. THE EARLY BIRD IN HISTORY 

12. PROTESTANTISM: A PROBLEM NOVEL 

13. A SIMPLE THOUGHT 

14. THE CALL TO THE BARBARIANS 

15. ON THE NOVEL WITH A PURPOSE 

16. THE REVOLT AGAINST IDEAS 

17. THE FEASTS AND THE ASCETIC 

18. WHO ARE THE CONSPIRATORS? 

19. THE HAT AND THE HALO 

20. ON TWO ALLEGORIES 

21. THE PROTESTANT SUPERSTITIONS 

22. ON COURAGE AND INDEPENDENCE 

23. THE NORDIC HINDOO 

24. SPIRITUALIST LOOKS BACK 

25. THE ROOTS OF SANITY 

26. SOME OF OUR ERRORS 

27. THE SLAVERY OF THE MIND 

28. INGE VERSUS BARNES 



29. WHAT WE THINK ABOUT 

30. THE OPTIMIST AS A SUICIDE 

31. THE OUTLINE OF THE FALL 

32 . THE IDOLS OF SCOTLAND 

33. IF THEY HAD BELIEVED 

34. PEACE AND THE PAPACY 

35. THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS 
-/- 

INTRODUCTION 

IT will be naturally objected to the publication of these papers 
that they are ephemeral and that they are controversial. 

In other words, the normal critic will at once dismiss them 

as too frivolous and dislike them as too serious. The rather 

one-sided truce of good taste, touching all religious matters, 

which prevailed until a short time ago, has now given place 

to a rather one-sided war. But the truce can still be invoked, 

as such terrorism of taste generally is invoked, against the minority. 

We all know the dear old Conservative colonel who swears himself red 
in the face that he is not going to talk politics, but that damning 

to hell all those bloody blasted Socialists is not politics. 

We all have a kindly feeling for the dear old lady, living at 
Bath or Cheltenham, who would not dream of talking uncharitably 
about anybody, but who does certainly think the Dissenters 
are too dreadful or that Irish servants are really impossible. 

It is in the spirit of these two very admirable persons that the 
controversy is now conducted in the Press on behalf of a Progressive Faith 
and a Broad and Brotherly Religion. So long as the writer employs 
vast and universal gestures fellowship and hospitality to all those 
who are ready to abandon their religious beliefs, he is allowed 
to be as rude as he likes to all those who venture to retain them. 

The Dean of St. Paul's permits himself genially to call the 

Catholic Church a treacherous and bloody corporation; Mr. H. G. Wells 
is allowed to compare the Blessed Trinity to an undignified dance; 
the Bishop of Birmingham to compare the Blessed Sacrament to a barbarous 
blood-feast. It is felt that phrases like these cannot ruffle 
that human peace and harmony which all such humanitarians desire; 
there is nothing in THESE expressions that could possibly interfere 
with brotherhood and the sympathy that is the bond of society. 

We may be sure of this, for we have the word of the writers 
themselves that their whole aim is to generate an atmosphere of 
liberality and love. If, therefore, any unlucky interruption mars 
the harmony of the occasion, if it is really impossible for these 
fraternal festivities to pass off without some silly disturbance, 
or somebody making a scene, it is obvious that the blame must lie 
with a few irritable and irritating individuals, who cannot accept 
these descriptions of the Trinity and the Sacrament and the Church 
as soothing their feelings or satisfying their ideas. 


It is explained very clearly in all such statements that they are 
accepted by all intelligent people except those who do not accept them. 
But as I myself, in my political experience, have ventured to doubt 



the right of the Tory colonel to curse his political opponents 
and say it is not politics, or of the lady to love everybody 
and loathe Irishmen, I have the same difficulty in admitting 
the right of the most liberal and large-minded Christian to see 
good in all religions and nothing but evil in mine. But I know 
that to publish replies to this effect, particularly direct replies 
given in real controversy, will be regarded by many as a provocation 
and an impertinence. Well, I must in this matter confess to being 
so old-fashioned as to feel something like a point of honour. 

I think I may say that I am normally of the sort to be sociable and 
get on easily with my fellows; I am not so much disposed to quarrel 
as to argue; and I value more than I can easily say the generally 
genial relations I have kept with those who differ from me merely 
in argument. I am very fond of England even as it is, quite apart 
from what it was or might be; I have a number of popular tastes, 
from detective stories to the defence of public-houses; I have been 
on many occasions on the side of the majority, as for instance 
in the propaganda of English patriotism during the Great War. 

I could even find in these sympathies a sufficient material 
for popular appeals; and, in a more practical sense, I should 
enjoy nothing more than always writing detective stories, 
except always reading them. But if in this much too lucky and even 
lazy existence I find that my co-religionists are being pelted 
with insults for saying that their religion is right, it would 
ill become me not to put myself in the way of being insulted. 

Many of them have had far too hard a life, and I have had far too 
easy a life, for me not to count it a privilege to be the object 
of the same curious controversial methods. If the Dean of St. Paul's 
really does believe, as he most undoubtedly does say, that the most 
devout and devoted rulers of the Catholic Church, when they accepted 
(realistically and even reluctantly) the fact of a modern miracle, 
were engaged in a "lucrative imposture," I should very much prefer 
to believe that he accuses me, along with better men than myself, 
of becoming an impostor merely for filthy lucre. If the word "Jesuit" 
is still to be used as synonymous with the word "liar," 

I should prefer that the same simple translation should apply 
to the word "Journalist," of which it is much more often true. 

If the Dean accuses Catholics as Catholics of desiring innocent men 
to die in prison (as he does), I should much prefer that he should cast 
me for some part in that terrific and murderous melodrama; it might in 
any case be material for a detective story. In short, it is precisely 
because I do sympathise and agree with my Protestant and agnostic 
fellow countrymen, on about ninety-nine subjects out of a hundred, 
that I do feel it a point of honour not to avoid their accusations 
on these points, if they really have such accusations to bring. 

I am very sorry if this little book of mine seems to be controversial 
on subjects about which everybody is allowed to be controversial 
except ourselves. But I am afraid there is no help for it; 
and if I assure the reader that I have tried to start putting 
it together in an unimpaired spirit of charity, it is always 
possible that the charity may be as one-sided as the controversy. 
Anyhow, it represents my attitude towards this controversy; 
and it is quite possible that everything is wrong about it, 
except that it is right . 

-/- 

THE SCEPTIC AS A CRITIC 


IT takes three to make a quarrel. There is needed a peacemaker. 



The full potentialities of human fury cannot be reached 
until a friend of both parties tactfully intervenes. 

I feel myself to be in some such position in the recent American 
debate about Mr. Mencken's MERCURY and the Puritans; and I admit it 
at the beginning with an embarrassment not untinged with terror. 

I know that the umpire may be torn in pieces. I know that the 
self-appointed umpire ought to be torn in pieces. I know, above all, 
that this is especially the case in anything which in any way involves 
international relations. Perhaps the only sound criticism is 
self-criticism. Perhaps this is even more true of nations than of men. 

And I can quite well understand that many Americans would accept 
suggestions from their fellow countrymen which they would rightly 
refuse from a foreigner. I can only plead that I have endeavoured 
to carry out the excellent patriotic principle of "See England First" 
in the equally patriotic paraphrase of "Criticize England First." 

I have been engaged upon it long enough to be quite well aware that there 
are evils present in England that are relatively absent from America; 
and none more conspicuously absent, as Mr. Belloc has pointed out 
to the surprise of many, than the real, servile, superstitious, 
and mystical adoration of Money. 

But what makes me so objectionable on the present occasion is that I 
feel a considerable sympathy with both sides. This offensive attitude I 
will endeavour to disguise, as far as possible, by tactfully distributed 
abuse of such things as I really think are abuses, and a gracefully 
simulated disgust with this or that part of each controversial case. 

But the plain truth is, that if I were an American, I should 
very frequently rejoice at the AMERICAN MERCURY'S scoring off 
somebody or something; nor would my modest fireside be entirely 
without mild rejoicings when the AMERICAN MERCURY was scored off. 

But I do definitely think that both sides, and perhaps especially 
the iconoclastic side, need what the whole modern world needs — 
a fixed spiritual standard even for their own intellectual purposes. 

I might express it by saying that I am very fond of revolutionists, 
but not very fond of nihilists. For nihilists, as their name implies, 
have nothing to revolt about. 

On this side of the matter there is little to be added to the 
admirably sane, subtle, and penetrating article by Mr. T. S. Eliot;* 
especially that vital sentence in it in which he tells 
Professor Irving Babbitt (who admits the need of enthusiasm) 
that we cannot have an enthusiasm for having an enthusiasm. 

I think I know, incidentally, what we must have. Professor Babbitt 
is a very learned man; and I myself have little Latin and less Greek. 

But I know enough Greek to know the meaning of the second 
syllable of "enthusiasm, " and I know it to be the key to this 
and every other discussion. 

Let me take two examples, touching my points of agreement with the 
two sides. I heartily admire Mr. Mencken, not only for his vivacity 
and wit, but for his vehemence and sometimes for his violence. 

I warmly applaud him for his scorn and detestation of Service; 
and I think he was stating a historical fact when he said, as quoted 
in THE FORUM: "When a gang of real estate agents, bond salesmen, 

and automobile dealers gets together to sob for Service, it takes no 
Freudian to surmise that someone is about to be swindled." I do not 
see why he should not call a spade a spade and a swindler a swindler. 

I do not blame him for using vulgar words for vulgar things. 

But I do remark upon two ways in which the fact of his philosophy being 
negative makes his criticism almost shallow. First of all, it is obvious 



that such a satire is entirely meaningless unless swindling is a sin. 
And it is equally obvious that we are instantly swallowed up 
in the abysses of "moralism" and "religionism," if it is a sin. 

And the second point, if less obvious, is equally important-- 
that his healthy instinct against greasy hypocrisy does not really 
enlighten him about the heart of that hypocrisy. 

What is the matter with the cult of Service is that, like so 
many modern notions, it is an idolatry of the intermediate, 
to the oblivion of the ultimate. It is like the jargon of the idiots 
who talk about Efficiency without any criticism of Effect. 

The sin of Service is the sin of Satan: that of trying to be first 

where it can only be second. A word like Service has stolen the sacred 
capital letter from the thing which it was once supposed to serve. 

There is a sense in serving God, and an even more disputed sense 
in serving man; but there is no sense in serving Service. 

To serve God is at least to serve an ideal being. Even if 
he were an imaginary being, he would still be an ideal being. 

That ideal has definite and even dogmatic attributes — truth, justice, 
pity, purity, and the rest. To serve it, however imperfectly, 
is to serve a particular concept of perfection. But the man who rushes 
down the street waving his arms and wanting something or somebody 
to serve, will probably fall into the first bucket-shop or den 
of thieves and usurers, and be found industriously serving THEM. 

There arises the horrible idea that industry, reliability, punctuality, 
and business activity are good things; that mere readiness 
to serve the powers of this world is a Christian virtue. 

That is the case against Service, as distinct from the curse 
against Service, so heartily and inspiringly hurled by Mr. Mencken. 

But the serious case cannot be stated without once more raising 
the real question of whether mankind ought to serve anything; and of 
whether they had not better try to define what they intend to serve. 

All these silly words like Service and Efficiency and Practicality 
and the rest fail because they worship the means and not the end. 

But it all comes back to whether we do propose worship the end; 
and preferably the right end. 

Two other characteristic passages from Mr. Mencken will serve to show 
more sharply this curious sense in which he misses his own point. 

On the one hand, he appears to state most positively the purely 
personal and subjective nature of criticism; he makes it individual 
and almost irresponsible. "The critic is first and last simply 
trying to express himself; he is trying to achieve thereby for 
his own inner ego the grateful feeling of a function performed, 
a tension relieved, a katharsis attained, which Wagner achieved when 
he wrote DIE WALKURIE, and a hen achieves every time she lays an egg." 
That is all consistent enough as far as it goes; but unfortunately 
Mr. Mencken appears to go on to something quite inconsistent with it. 
According to the quotation, he afterwards bursts into a song 
of triumph because there is now in America not only criticism, 
but controversy. "To-day for the first time in years there is strife 
in American criticism... ears are bitten off, noses are bloodied. 

There are wallops both above and below the belt." 

Now, there may be something in his case for controversy; but it 
is quite inconsistent with his case for creative self-expression. 

If the critic produces the criticism only to please himself; 
it is entirely irrelevant that it does not please somebody else. 

The somebody else has a perfect right to say the exact opposite 
to please himself, and be a perfectly satisfied with himself. 



But they cannot controvert because they cannot compare. 

They cannot compare because there is no common standard of comparison. 
Neither I nor anybody else can have a controversy about literature 
with Mr. Mencken, because there is no way of criticizing 
the criticism, except by asking whether the critic is satisfied. 

And there the debate ends, at the beginning: for nobody can doubt 

that Mr. Mencken is satisfied. 

But not to make Mr. Mencken a mere victim of the ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM, I 
will make the experiment in a viler body and offer myself for dissection. 
I daresay a great deal of the criticism I write really is moved 
by a mood of self-expression; and certainly it is true enough that 
there is a satisfaction in self-expression. I can take something 
or other about which I have definite feelings — as, for instance, 
the philosophy of Mr. Dreiser, which has been mentioned more than once 
in this debate. I can achieve for my own inner ego the grateful 
feeling of writing as follows: 

"He describes a world which appears to be a dull and discolouring 
illusion of indigestion, not bright enough to be called 
a nightmare; smelly, but not even stinking with any strength; 
smelling of the stale gas of ignorant chemical experiments by dirty, 
secretive schoolboys — the sort of boys who torture cats in comers; 
spineless and spiritless like a broken-backed worm; loathsomely slow 
and laborious like an endless slug; despairing, but not with dignity; 
blaspheming, but not with courage; without wit without will, 
without laughter or uplifting of the heart; too old to die, too deaf 
to leave off talking, too blind to stop, too stupid to start afresh, 
too dead to be killed, and incapable even of being damned, since in 
all its weary centuries it has not reached the age of reason." 

That is what I feel about it; and it certainly gives me 
pleasure to relieve my feelings. I have got it off my chest. 

I have attained a katharsis. I have laid an egg. I have produced 
a criticism, satisfying all Mr. Mencken's definitions of the critic. 

I have performed a function. I feel better, thank you. 

But what influence my feelings can be expected to have on Mr. Dreiser, 
or anybody who does not admit my standards of truth and falsehood, 

I do not quite see. Mr. Dreiser can hardly be expected to say 
that his chemistry is quackery, as I think it — quackery without 
the liveliness we might reasonably expect from quacks. 

He does not think fatalism base and servile, as I do; he does 
not think free will the highest truth about humanity, as I do. 

He does not believe that despair is itself a sin, and perhaps 
the worst of sins, as Catholics do. He does not think blasphemy 
the smallest and silliest sort of pride, as even pagans do. 

He naturally does not think his own picture of life a false picture, 
resembling real life about as much as a wilderness of linoleum 
would resemble the land of all the living flowers, as I do. 

But he would not think it falser for being like a wilderness. 

He would probably admit that it was dreary, but think it correct 
to be dreary. He would probably own that he was hopeless, but not 
see any harm in being hopeless. What I advance as accusations, 
he would very probably accept as compliments. 

Under these circumstances, I do not quite see how I, or anyone 
with my views, could have a CONTROVERSY with Mr. Dreiser. 

There does not seem to be any way in which I could prove 

him wrong, because he does not accept my view of what is wrong. 



There does not seem to be any way in which he could prove 
himself right, because I do not share his notions of what is right. 

We might, indeed, meet in the street and fall on each other; 
and while I believe we are both heavy men, I doubt not that he is 
the more formidable. The very possibility of our being reduced 
to this inarticulate explanation may possibly throw some light 
on Mr. Mencken's remarkable description of the new literary life 
in America. "Ears are bitten off," he says; and this curious 
form of cultural intercourse might really be the only solution, 
when ears are no longer organs of hearing and there are no organs 
except organs of self-expression. He that hath ears to hear and will 
not hear may just as well have them bitten off. Such deafness 
seems inevitable in the creative critic, who is as indifferent 
as a hen to all noises except her own cackling over her own egg. 

Anyhow, hens do not criticize each other's eggs, or even pelt 
each other with eggs, in the manner of political controversy. 

We can only say that the novelist in question has undoubtedly laid 
a magnificently large and solid egg — something in the nature of an 
ostrich's egg; and after that, there is really nothing to prevent 
the ostrich from hiding its head in the sand, achieving thereby 
for its own inner ego the grateful feeling of a function performed. 

But we cannot argue with it about whether the egg is a bad egg, 
or whether parts of it are excellent. 

In all these instances, therefore, because of the absence of a standard of 
ultimate values, the most ordinary functions really cannot be performed. 
They not only cannot be performed with "a grateful feeling, " 
or a katharsis, but in the long run they cannot be performed at all. 

We cannot really denounce the Service-mongering bond salesman 
as a swindler, because we have no certain agreement that it 
is shameful to be a swindler. A little manipulation of some 
of Mr. Mencken's own individualistic theories about mentality 
as superior to moralism might present the swindler as a superman. 

We cannot really argue for or against the mere ideal of Service, 
because neither side has really considered what is to be served 
or how we are to arrive at the right rules for serving it. 

Consequently, in practice, it may turn out that the State of Service 
is merely the Servile State. And finally, we cannot really argue 
about that or anything else, because there are no rules of the game 
of argument. There is nothing to prove who has scored a point 
and who has not. There cannot be "strife in American criticism"; 
the professors cannot be "forced to make some defence." 

That would require plaintiffs and defendants to appear before some 
tribunal and give evidence according to some tests of truth. 

There can be a disturbance, but there can not be a discussion. 

In plain words, the normal functions of man — effort, protest, judgment, 
persuasion, and proof — are found in fact to be hampered and hamstrung 
by these negations of the sceptic even when the sceptic seems at first 
to be only denying some distant vision or some miraculous tale. 

Each function is found in fact to refer to some end, to some test, to some 
way of distinguishing between use and misuse, which the mere sceptic 
destroys as completely as he could destroy any myth or superstition. 

If the function is only performed for the satisfaction of the performer, 
as in the parable of the critic and the egg, it becomes futile 
to discuss whether it is an addled egg. It becomes futile to 
consider whether eggs will produce chickens or provide breakfasts. 

But even to be certain of our own sanity in applying the tests, 

we do really have to go back to some aboriginal problem, 

like that of the old riddle of the priority of egg or chicken; 



we do really, like the great religions, have to begin AB 0V0 . 

If those primordial sanities can be disturbed, the whole of practical 
life can be disturbed with them. Men can be frozen by fatalism, 
or crazed by anarchism, or driven to death by pessimism; for men 
will not go on indefinitely acting on what they feel to be a fable. 

And it is in this organic and almost muscular sense that religion 
is really the help of man — in the sense that without it he is 
ultimately helpless, almost motionless. 

Mr. Mencken and Mr. Sinclair Lewis and the other critics in the MERCURY 
movement are so spirited and sincere, they attack so vigorously 
so many things that ought to be attacked, they expose so brilliantly 
many things that really are impostures, that in discussing matters 
with them a man will have every impulse to put his cards on the table. 

It would be affectation and almost hypocrisy in me to ignore, 
in this place, the fact that I do myself believe in a special 
spiritual solution of this problem, a special spiritual authority 
above this chaos. Nor, indeed, is the idea altogether absent, 
as an idea, from many other minds besides my own. The Catholic 
philosophy is mentioned in terms of respect, and even a sort 
of hope, both by Professor Babbitt** and Mr. T. S. Eliot. 

I do not misunderstand their courtesies, or seek to lure them 
a step further than they desire to go. But, as a matter of fact, 
by a series of faultlessly logical steps, Mr. Eliot led Professor Babbitt 
so near to the very gates of the Catholic Church that in the end 
I felt quite nervous, so to speak, for fear they should both take 
another unintentional step and fall into it by accident. 

I have a particular reason for mentioning this matter in conclusion — 
a reason that is directly related to this curious effect of 
scepticism in weakening the normal functions of the human being. 

In one of the most brilliant and amusing of Mr. Sinclair Lewis's 
recent books there is a passage which I quote from memory, but I think 
more or less correctly. He said that the Catholic Faith differs 
from current Puritanism in that it does not ask a man to give up 
his sense of beauty, or his sense of humour, or his pleasant vices 
(by which he probably meant smoking and drinking, which are not vices 
at all), but that it does ask a man to give up his life and soul, 
his mind, body, reason, and all the rest. I ask the reader to consider, 
as quietly and impartially as possible, the statement thus made; 
and put it side by side with all those other facts about the gradual 
fossilizing of human function by the fundamental doubts of our day. 

It would be far truer to say that the Faith gives a man back his 
body and his soul and his reason and his will and his very life. 

It would be far truer to say that the man who has received it 
receives all the old human functions which all the other philosophies 
are already taking away. It would be nearer to reality to say 
that he alone will have freedom, that he alone will have will, 
because he alone will believe in free will; that he alone will 
have reason, since ultimate doubt denies reason as well as authority; 
that he alone will truly act, because action is performed to an end. 

It is at least a less unlikely vision that all this hardening and 
hopeless despair of the intellect will leave him at last the only 
walking and talking citizen in a city of paralytics. 


* "The Humanism of Irving Babbitt," The Forum for July 1928. 



** "The Critic and American life 


The Forum for February 1928. 


-/- 

IS HUMANISM A RELIGION? 

I HAVE just been reading Mr. Norman Foerster's book on 
"American Criticism"; and I hope it is no disrespect to the bulk 
of the book, a series of very thoughtful studies on American thinkers, 
if I say that the whole point of it is in the last chapter; 
which propounds a certain problem or challenge to modern thought. 

It is the problem of whether what he calls Humanism can satisfy humanity. 
Of his other topics it would be easy to talk for ever. 

He generally says the right thing; he sometimes says the last word, 
in that suggestive or provocative style that tempts somebody 
to say one word more. In my own estimate of his subjects. 

Whitman would be very much larger and Lowell very much smaller. 

About Emerson he seems both sensitive and just; and Emerson certainly 
had distinction; but just that dry sort of distinction to which I 
should always be afraid of being unfair. A Puritan tried to be a Pagan; 
and succeeded in being a Pagan who hesitated about whether he ought 
to go and see a girl dancing. But all these things are stimulating 
but secondary to the question which I will take the liberty 
of attacking separately and attempting to answer seriously. 

I fear that answering it seriously must mean answering it personally. 

The question really is whether Humanism can perform all the functions 
of religion; and I cannot but regard it in relation to my own religion. 

It is only just to say that Humanism is quite different 

from Humanitarianism. It means, as explained here, something like this. 
Modern science and organization are in a sense only too natural. 

They herd us like the beasts along lines of heredity or tribal doom; 
they attach man to the earth like a plant instead of liberating him, 
even like a bird, let alone an angel. Indeed, their latest psychology 
is lower than the level of life. What is subconscious is sub-human and, 
as it were, subterranean: or something less than earthly. 

This fight for culture is above all a fight for consciousness: 
what some would call self-consciousness: but anyhow against 
mere subconsciousness. We need a rally of the really human things; 
will which is morals, memory which is tradition, culture which is 
the mental thrift of our fathers. Nevertheless, my first duty is to 
answer the question put to me; and I must answer it in the negative. 

I do not believe that Humanism can be a complete substitute 
for Superhumanism. I do not believe it because of a certain truth to me 
so concrete as to be called a fact. I know it sounds very like something 
that has often been said in conventional or superficial apologetics. 

But I do not mean it in that vague sense; so far from inheriting it 
as a convention, I have rather recently collided with it as a discovery. 

I have realized it relatively late in life, and realized that it 
is indeed the whole story and moral of my own lifetime. 

But even a few years ago, when most of my moral and religious views 
were pretty finally formed, I should not have seen it quite sharply 
and clearly; as I see it now. 

The fact is this: that the modern world, with its modern movements, 

is living on its Catholic capital. It is using, and using up, 

the truths that remain to it out of the old treasury of Christendom; 

including, of course, many truths known to pagan antiquity 

but crystallized in Christendom. But it is NOT really starting 

new enthusiasms of its own. The novelty is a matter of names 



and labels, like modern advertisement; in almost every other way 
the novelty is merely negative. It is not starting fresh things 
that it can really carry on far into the future. On the contrary, 
it is picking up old things that it cannot carry on at all. 

For these are the two marks of modem moral ideals. First, that they 
were borrowed or snatched out of ancient or mediaeval hands . 

Second, that they wither very quickly in modern hands . 

That is, very briefly, the thesis I maintain; and it so happens 
that the book called AMERICAN CRITICISM might almost have been 
meant for a text-book to prove my point. 

I will begin with a particular example with which the book 
also deals. My whole youth was filled, as with a sunrise, 
with the sanguine glow of Walt Whitman. He seemed to me something 
like a crowd turned to a giant, or like Adam the First Man. 

It thrilled me to hear of somebody who had heard of somebody, 
who saw him in the street; it was as if Christ were still alive. 

I did not care about whether his unmetrical poetry were a wise form 
or no, any more than whether a true Gospel of Jesus were scrawled 
on parchment or stone. I never had a hint of the evil some enemies 
have attributed to him; if it was there, it was not there for me. 

What I saluted was a new equality, which was not a dull levelling 

but an enthusiastic lifting; a shouting exultation in the mere 

fact that men were men. Real men were greater than unreal gods; 

and each remained as mystic and majestic as a god, while he became as 

frank and comforting as a comrade. The point can be put most compactly 

in one of Whitman's own phrases; he says somewhere that old artists 

painted crowds, in which one head had a nimbus of gold-coloured light; 

"but I paint hundreds of heads, but paint no head without its 

nimbus of gold-coloured light." A glory was to cling about men 

as men; a mutual worship was to take the form of fellowship; 

and the least and lowest of men must be included in this fellowship; 

a hump-backed Negro half-wit, with one eye and homicidal mania, 

must not be painted without his nimbus of gold-coloured light. 

This might seem only the final expansion of a movement begun a century 
before with Rousseau and the Revolutionists; and I was brought up 
to believe and did believe that the movement was the beginning 
of bigger and better things. But these were songs before sunrise; 
and there is no comparison between even sunrise and the sun. 

Whitman was brotherhood in broad daylight, showing endless varieties 
of radiant and wonderful creatures, all the more sacred for being solid. 
Shelley had adored Man, but Whitman adored Men. Every human face, 
every human feature, was a matter of mystical poetry, such as lit 
like chance torchlight, hitherto, a face here and there in the crowd. 

A king was a man treated as all men should be treated. 

A god was a man worshipped as all men should be worshipped. 

What could they do against a race of gods and a republic of kings; 
not verbally but veritably the New World? 

Well here is what Mr. Foerster says about the present position of 
the founder of the new world of democracy: "Our present science lends 

little support to an inherent 'dignity of man' or to his 'perfectibility. 
It is wholly possible that the science of the future will lead 
us away from democracy towards some form of aristocracy. 

The millennial expectations that Whitman built upon science and democracy 
we are now well aware rested upon insecure foundations... The 
perfection of nature, the natural goodness of man, 'the great pride 
of man in himself' offset with an emotional humanitarianism — these are 
the materials of a structure only slightly coloured with modernity. 

His politics, his ethics, his religion belong to the past. 



even that facile 'religiousness' which he hoped would suffuse 
and complete the work of science and democracy... In the essentials 
of his prophecy. Whitman, we must conclude, has been falsified 
by the event." This is a very moderate and fair statement; 
it would be easy to find the same thing in a much fiercer statement. 

Here is a monumental remark by Mr. H.L. Mencken: "They (he means certain 

liberal or ex-liberal thinkers) have come to realize that the morons 
whom they sweated to save do not want to be saved, and are not 
worth saving." That is the New Spirit, if there is any New Spirit. 

"I will make unconquerable cities, with their arms about each 
other's necks," cried Walt Whitman, "by the love of comrades, 
by the lifelong love of comrades." I like to think of the face 
of Mr. Mencken of Baltimore, if some casual comrade from Pittsburgh 
tried to make him unconquerable by putting an arm around his neck. 

But the idea is dead for much less ferocious people than Mr. Mencken. 

It is dead in a man like Aldous Huxley, who complained recently of 
the "gratuitous" romancing of the old republican view of human nature. 

It is dead in the most humane and humorous of our recent critics. 

It is dead in so many wise and good men to-day, that I cannot help 
wondering whether, under modern conditions of his favourite "science," 
it would not be dead in Whitman himself. 

It is not dead in me. It remains real for me, not by any merit of mine, 

but by the fact that this mystical idea, while it has evaporated 

as a mood, still exists as a creed. I am perfectly prepared to assert, 

as firmly as I should have asserted in my boyhood, that the hump-backed 

and half-witted Negro is decorated with a nimbus of gold-coloured light. 

The truth is that Whitman's wild picture, or what he thought 

was a wild picture, is in fact a very old and orthodox picture. 

There are, as a matter of fact, any number of old pictures 
in which whole crowds are crowned with haloes, to indicate 
that they have all attained Beatitude. But for Catholics it is 
a fundamental dogma of the Faith that all human beings, without any 
exception whatever, were specially made, were shaped and pointed 
like shining arrows, for the end of hitting the mark of Beatitude. 

It is true that the shafts are feathered with free will, and therefore 

throw the shadow of all the tragic possibilities of free will; 

and that the Church (having also been aware for ages of that darker 

side of truth, which the new sceptics have just discovered) 

does also draw attention to the darkness of that potential tragedy. 

But that does not make any difference to the gloriousness 
of the potential glory. In one aspect it is even a part of it; 
since the freedom is itself a glory. In that sense they would 
still wear their haloes even in hell. 

But the point is that anyone believing that all these beings 
were made to be blessed, and multitudes of them probably well on 
their way to be blessed, really has a sound philosophic reason 
for regarding them all as radiant and wonderful creatures, 
or seeing all their heads in haloes. That conviction does make 
every human face, every human feature, a matter of mystical poetry. 

But it is not at all like modern poetry. The most modern of modern 
poetry is not the poetry of reception, but of rejection, or rather, 
of repulsion. The spirit that inhabits most recent work might be 
called a fury of fastidiousness. The new man of letters does not get 
his effect by saying that for him a hump-backed Negro has a halo. 

He gets his effect by saying that, just as he was about to embrace 
finally the fairest of women, he was nauseated by a pimple 
above her eyebrow or a stain of grease on her left thumb. 

Whitman tried to prove that dirty things were really clean. 



as when he glorified manure as the matrix of the purity of grass. 

His followers in free verse try to prove that clean things 
are really dirty; to suggest something leprous and loathsome 
about the thick whiteness of milk, or something prickly 
and plague-stricken about the unaccountable growth of hair. 

In short, the whole mood has changed, as a matter of poetry. 

But it has not changed as a matter of theology; and that is the argument 
for having an unchanging theology. The Catholic theology has nothing 
to do with democracy, for or against, in the sense of a machinery 
of voting or a criticism of particular political privileges. 

It is not committed to support what Whitman said for democracy, 
or even what Jefferson or Lincoln said for democracy. 

But it is absolutely committed to contradict what Mr. Mencken 

says against democracy. There will be Diocletian persecutions, 

there will be Dominican crusades, there will be rending of all religious 

peace and compromise, or even the end of civilization and the world, 

before the Catholic Church will admit that one single moron, 

or one single man, "is not worth saving." 

I have therefore found in my middle age this curious fact about 
the lesson of my life, and that of all my generation. We all grew up 
with a common conviction, lit by the flames of the literary genius 
of Rousseau, of Shelley, of Victor Hugo, finding its final flare up 
and conflagration in the universalism of Walt Whitman. And we all took 
it for granted that all our descendants would take it for granted. 

I said the discovery of brotherhood seemed like the discovery 
of broad daylight; of something that men could never grow tired of. 

Yet even in my own short lifetime, men have already grown tired of it. 

We cannot now appeal to the love of equality as an EMOTION. 

We cannot now open a new book of poems, and expect it to be about 
the life-long love of comrades, or "Love, the beloved Republic, 
that feeds upon freedom and lives." We realize that in most 
men it has died, because it was a mood and not a doctrine. 

And we begin to wonder too late, in the wise fashion of the aged, 
how we could ever have expected it to last as a mood, if it was not 
strong enough to last as a doctrine. And we also begin to realize 
that all the real strength there was in it, which is the only strength 
that remains in it, was the original strength of the doctrine. 

What really happened was this: that the men of the eighteenth century, 

many of them in a just impatience with corrupt and cynical priests, 
turned on those priests and said in effect, "Well, I suppose 
you call yourselves Christians; so you can't actually DENY 
that men are brothers or that it is our duty to help the poor." 

The very confidence of their challenge, the very ringing note 
in the revolutionary voice, came from the fact that the Christian 
reactionaries were in a false position as Christians. 

The democratic demand won because it seemed unanswerable. 

And it seemed unanswerable, not in the least because it is unanswerable, 
but because even decadent Christians dared not give the answer. 

Mr. H. L. Mencken will always be happy to oblige with the answer. 

Now, it was just here that, for me, the business began to be odd 
and interesting. For, looking back on older religious crises, I seem 
to see a certain coincidence, or rather, a set of things too coincident 
to be cried a coincidence After all, when I come to think of it, 
all the other revolts against the Church, before the Revolution and 
especially since the Reformation, had told the same strange story. 

Every great heretic had always exhibit three remarkable characteristics 

in combination. First, he picked out some mystical idea from 

the Church's bundle or balance of mystical ideas. Second, he used 



that one mystical idea against all the other mystical ideas. 

Third (and most singular) , he seems generally to have had no 
notion that his own favourite mystical idea was a mystical idea, 
at least in the sense of a mysterious or dubious or dogmatic idea. 

With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken 
this one thing for granted. He assumed it to be unassailable, 
even when he was using it to assail all sorts of similar things. 

The most popular and obvious example is the Bible. To an impartial 
pagan or sceptical observer, it must always seem the strangest story 
in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the 
altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes 
inscribed "Psalms" or "Gospels"; and (instead of throwing them on 
the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking 
all the other arrangements. If the sacred high altar was all wrong, 
why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? 

If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have 
faked his Scriptures? Yet it was long before it even occurred 
to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture 
to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be 
so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself. 

People were quite surprised, and in some parts of the world are 
still surprised, that anybody should dare to do so. 

Again, the Calvinists took the Catholic idea of the absolute knowledge 
and power of God; and treated it as a rocky irreducible truism so solid 
that anything could be built on it, however crushing or cruel. 

They were so confident in their logic, and its one first principle 
of predestination, that they tortured the intellect and imagination 
with dreadful deductions about God, that seemed to turn Him into a demon. 
But it never seems to have struck them that somebody might suddenly 
say that he did not believe in the demon. They were quite surprised 
when people called "infidels" here and there began to say it. 

They had assumed the Divine foreknowledge as so fixed, that it must, 
if necessary, fulfil itself by destroying the Divine mercy. 

They never thought anybody would deny the knowledge exactly 
as they denied the mercy. Then came Wesley and the reaction 
against Calvinism; and Evangelicals seized on the very Catholic 
idea that mankind has a sense of sin; and they wandered about 
offering everybody release from his mysterious burden of sin. 

It is a proverb, and almost a joke, that they address a stranger 
in the street and offer to relax his secret agony of sin. 

But it seldom seemed to strike them, until much later, that the man 
in the street might possibly answer that he did not want to be saved 
from sin, any more than from spotted fever or St. Vitus's Dance; 
because these things were not in fact causing him any suffering 
at all. They, in their turn, were quite surprised when the result 
of Rousseau and the revolutionary optimism began to express itself 
in men claiming a purely human happiness and dignity; a contentment 
with the comradeship of their kind; ending with the happy yawp 
of Whitman that he would not "lie awake and weep for his sins." 

Now the plain truth is that Shelley and Whitman and the revolutionary 
optimists were themselves doing exactly the same thing all over again. 
They also, though less consciously because of the chaos of their times, 
had really taken out of the old Catholic tradition one particular 
transcendental idea; the idea that there is a spiritual dignity 
in man as man, and a universal duty to love men as men. And they 
acted in exactly the same extraordinary fashion as their prototypes, 
the Wesleyans and the Calvinists. They took it for granted that this 
spiritual idea was absolutely self-evident like the sun and moon; 



that nobody could ever destroy that, though in the name of it 
they destroyed everything else. They perpetually hammered away 
at their human divinity and human dignity, and inevitable love 
for all human beings; as if these things were naked natural facts. 

And now they are quite surprised when new and restless realists 
suddenly explode, and begin to say that a pork-butcher with red whiskers 
and a wart on his nose does not strike them as particularly divine 
or dignified, that they are not conscious of the smallest sincere 
impulse to love him, that they could not love him if they tried, 
or that they do not recognize any particular obligation to try. 

It might appear that the process has come to an end, and that there 
is nothing more for the naked realist to shed. But it is not so; 
and the process can still go on. There are still traditional 
charities to which men cling. There are still traditional charities 
for them to fling away when they find they are only traditional. 
Everybody must have noticed in the most modern writers the survival 
of a rather painful sort of pity. They no longer honour all men, 
like St. Paul and the other mystical democrats. It would hardly be 
too much to say that they despise all men; often (to do them justice) 
including themselves. But they do in a manner pity all men, 
and particularly those that are pitiable; by this time they extend 
the feeling almost disproportionately to the other animals. 

This compassion for men is also tainted with its historical 
connection with Christian charity; and even in the case of animals, 
with the example of many Christian saints. There is nothing to show 
that a new revulsion from such sentimental religions will not free 
men even from the obligation of pitying the pain of the world. 

Not only Nietzsche, but many Neo-Pagans working on his lines, 
have suggested such hardness as a higher intellectual purity. 

And having read many modern poems about the Man of the Future, 
made of steel and illumined with nothing warmer than green fire, 

I have no difficulty in imagining a literature that should pride itself 
on a merciless and metallic detachment. Then, perhaps, it might be 
faintly conjectured that the last of the Christian virtues had died. 

But so long as they lived they were Christian. 

I do not therefore believe that Humanism and Religion are rivals 
on equal terms. I believe it is a rivalry between the pools and 
the fountain; or between the firebrands and the fire. Each of these 
old intellectuals snatched one firebrand out of the undying fire; 
but the point is that though he waved the torch very wildly, 
though he would have used the torch to burn down half the world, 
the torch went out very soon. The Puritans did not really perpetuate 
their sublime exultation in helplessness; they only made it unpopular. 

We did not go on indefinitely looking at the Brooklyn crowds 
with the eye of Whitman; we have come with singular rapidity 
to regard them with the eye of Dreiser. In short, I distrust 
spiritual experiments outside the central spiritual tradition; 
for the simple reason that I think they do not last, even if they 
manage to spread. At the most they stand for one generation; 
at the commonest for one fashion; at the lowest for one clique. 

I do not think they have the secret of continuity; certainly not 
of corporate continuity. For an antiquated, doddering old democrat 
like myself may be excused for attaching some slight importance 
to that last question; that of covering the common life of mankind. 

How many Humanists are there supposed to be among the inferior 
crowd of human beings? Are there to be, for instance, no more than 
there were Greek philosophers in an ordinary rabble of jolly pagan 
polytheistic Greeks? Are there to be no more than there were men 



concentrated on the Culture of Matthew Arnold, among the mobs who followed 
Cardinal Manning or General Booth? I do not in the least intend 
to sneer at Humanism; I think I understand the intellectual distinction 
it draws, and I have tried to understand it in a spirit of humility; 
but I feel a faint interest in how many people out of the battered 
and bewildered human race are actually expected to understand it. 

And I ask with a certain personal interest; for there are three hundred 
million people in the world who accept the mysteries that I accept 
and live by the faith I hold. I really want to know whether it 
is anticipated that there will be three hundred million Humanists 
in Humanity. The sanguine may say that Humanism will be the religion 
of the next generation, just as Comte said that Humanity would 
be the God of the next generation; and so in one sense it was. 

But it is not the God of this generation. And the question 
is what will be the religion of the next generation after that, 
or all the other generations (as a certain ancient promise ran) 
even unto the end of the world. 

Humanism, in Mr. Foerster's sense, has one very wise and 

worthy character. It is really trying to pick up the pieces; 

that is, to pick up all the pieces. All that was done before was 

first blind destruction and then random and scrappy selection; 

as if boys had broken up a stained-glass window and then made a few scraps 

into coloured spectacles, the rose-coloured spectacles of the republican 

or the green or yellow spectacles of the pessimist and the decadent. 

But Humanism as here professed will stoop to gather all it can; 
for instance, it is great enough to stoop and pick up the jewel 
of humility. Mr. Foerster does understand, as the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries did not understand, the case for humility. 

Matthew Arnold, who made something of the same stand for what 
he called Culture in the mid-nineteenth century, attempted something 
of the same preservation of chastity; which he would call, 
in a rather irritating manner, "pureness." But before we call either 
Culture or Humanism a substitute for religion, there is a very plain 
question that can be asked in the form of a very homely metaphor. 

Humanism may try to pick up the pieces; but can it stick them together? 
Where is the cement which made religion corporate and popular, 
which can prevent it falling to pieces in a debris of individualistic 
tastes and degrees? What is to prevent one Humanist wanting 
chastity without humility, and another humility without chastity, 
and another truth or beauty without either? The problem of an enduring 
ethic and culture consists in finding an arrangement of the pieces 
by which they remain related, as do the stones arranged in an arch. 

And I know only one scheme that has thus proved its solidity, 
bestriding lands and ages with its gigantic arches, and carrying 
everywhere the high river of baptism upon an aqueduct of Rome. 

-/- 

THE DRIFT FROM DOMESTICITY 

IN the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, 
there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably 
be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution 
or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected 
across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it 
and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." 

To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 

"If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. 
Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you 



do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it. 


This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. 

The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists 
who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put 
there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. 
Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good 
thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, 
we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. 

It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole 
aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings 
like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. 

There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming 

that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, 

we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. 

But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social 
institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. 

If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, 
he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that 
they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes 
which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing 
as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, 
it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion. 

We might even say that he is seeing things in a nightmare. 

This principle applies to a thousand things, to trifles as well 
as true institutions, to convention as well as to conviction. 

It was exactly the sort of person, like Joan of Arc, who did know 
why women wore skirts, who was most justified in not wearing one; 
it was exactly the sort of person, like St. Francis, who did 
sympathise with the feast and the fireside, who was most entitled 
to become a beggar on the open road. And when, in the general 
emancipation of modern society, the Duchess says she does not see 
why she shouldn't play leapfrog, or the Dean declares that he sees 
no valid canonical reason why he should not stand on his head, 
we may say to these persons with patient benevolence: 

"Defer, therefore, the operation you contemplate until you have realised 
by ripe reflection what principle or prejudice you are violating. 

Then play leapfrog and stand on your head and the Lord be with you." 

Among the traditions that are being thus attacked, not intelligently 
but most unintelligently, is the fundamental human creation called 
the Household or the Home. That is a typical thing which men attack, 
not because they can see through it, but because they cannot see it 
at all. They beat at it blindly, in a fashion entirely haphazard 
and opportunist; and many of them would pull it down with out 
even pausing to ask why it was ever put up. It is true that only 
a few of them would have avowed this object in so many words. 

That only proves how very blind and blundering they are. 

But they have fallen into a habit of mere drift and gradual 
detachment from family life; something that is often merely 
accidental and devoid of any definite theory at all. 

But though it is accidental it is none the less anarchical. 

And it is all the more anarchical for not being anarchist. 

It seems to be largely founded on individual irritation; 
an irritation which varies with the individual. We are merely 
told that in this or that case a particular temperament was 
tormented by a particular environment; but nobody even explained 
how the evil arose, let alone whether the evil is really escaped. 

We are told that in this or that family Grandmamma talked a great 
deal of nonsense, which God knows is true; or that it is very 



difficult to have intimate intellectual relations with Uncle Gregory 
without telling him he is a fool, which is indeed the case. 

But nobody seriously considers the remedy, or even the malady; 
or whether the existing individualistic dissolution is a remedy at all. 
Much of this business began with the influence of Ibsen, a very powerful 
dramatist and an exceedingly feeble philosopher. I suppose that Nora 
of THE DOLL'S HOUSE was intended to be an inconsequent person; 
but certainly her most inconsequent action was her last. 

She complained that she was not yet fit to look after children, 
and then proceeded to get as far as possible from the children, 
that she might study them more closely. 

There is one simple test and type of this neglect of scientific 
thinking and the sense of a social rule; the neglect which has 
now left us with nothing but a welter of exceptions. I have read 
hundreds and thousands of times, in all the novels and newspapers 
of our epoch, certain phrases about the just right of the young 
to liberty, about the unjust claim of the elders to control, 
about the conception that all souls must be free or all citizens equal, 
about the absurdity of authority or the degradation of obedience. 

I am not arguing those matters directly at the moment. 

But what strikes me as astounding, in a logical sense, is that not 
one of these myriad novelists and newspaper-men ever seems to think 
of asking the next and most obvious question. It never seems to 
occur to them to enquire what becomes of the opposite obligation. 

If the child is free from the first to disregard the parent, 
why is not the parent free from the first to disregard the child? 

If Mr. Jones, Senior, and Mr. Jones, Junior, are only two free 
and equal citizens, why should one citizen sponge on another citizen 
for the first fifteen years of his life? Why should the elder 
Mr. Jones be expected to feed, clothe and shelter out of his own 
pocket another person who is entirely free of any obligations to him? 

If the bright young thing cannot be asked to tolerate her grandmother, 
who has become something of a bore, why should the grandmother 
or the mother have tolerated the bright young thing at a period 
of her life when she was by no means bright? Why did they 
laboriously look after her at a time when her contributions to the 
conversation were seldom epigrammatic and not often intelligible? 

Why should Jones Senior stand drinks and free meals to anybody 
so unpleasant as Jones Junior, especially in the immature phases 
of his existence? Why should he not throw the baby out of the window; 
or at any rate, kick the boy out of doors? It is obvious that we 
are dealing with a real relation, which may be equality, but is 
certainly not similarity. 

Some social reformers try to evade this difficulty, I know, 
by some vague notions about the State or an abstraction called 
Education eliminating the parental function. But this, 
like many notions of solid scientific persons, is a wild illusion 
of the nature of mere moonshine. It is based on that strange 
new superstition, the idea of infinite resources of organisation. 

It is as if officials grew like grass or bred like rabbits. 

There is supposed to be an endless supply of salaried persons, 
and of salaries for them; and they are to undertake all that human 
beings naturally do for themselves; including the care of children. 

But men cannot live by taking in each other's baby-linen. They cannot 
provide a tutor for each citizen; who is to tutor the tutors? 

Men cannot be educated by machinery; and though there might be 
a Robot bricklayer or scavenger, there will never be a Robot 
schoolmaster or governess. The actual effect of this theory 



is that one harassed person has to look after a hundred children, 
instead of one normal person looking after a normal number of them. 
Normally that normal person is urged by a natural force, which costs 
nothing and does not require a salary; the force of natural 
affection for his young, which exists even among the animals. 

If you cut off that natural force, and substitute a paid bureaucracy, 
you are like a fool who should pay men to turn the wheel of his mill, 
because he refused to use wind or water which he could get for nothing. 
You are like a lunatic who should carefully water his garden with 
a watering-can, while holding up an umbrella to keep off the rain. 

It is now necessary to recite these truisms; for only by doing 
so can we begin to get a glimpse of that reason for the existence 
of the family, which I began this essay by demanding. 

They were all familiar to our fathers, who believed in the links 
of kinship and also in the links of logic. To-day our logic consists 
mostly of missing links; and our family largely of absent members. 

But, anyhow, this is the right end at which to begin any such enquiry; 
and not at the tail-end or the fag-end of some private muddle, 
by which Dick has become discontented or Susan has gone off on her own. 
If Dick or Susan wish to destroy the family because they 
do not see the use of it, I say as I said in the beginning; 
if they do not see the use of it, they had much better preserve it. 

They have no business even to think of destroying it until they 
have seen the use of it . 

But it has other uses, besides the obvious fact that it means 
a necessary social work being done for love when it cannot be done 
for money; and (one might almost dare to hint) presumably to be 
repaid with love since it is never repaid in money. On that simple 
side of the matter the general situation is easy to record. 

The existing and general system of society, subject in our own age 
and industrial culture to very gross abuses and painful problems, 
is nevertheless a normal one. It is the idea that the commonwealth is 
made up of a number of small kingdoms, of which a man and a woman become 
the king and queen and in which they exercise a reasonable authority, 
subject to the common sense of the commonwealth, until those under their 
care grow up to found similar kingdoms and exercise similar authority. 
This is the social structure of mankind, far older than all 
its records and more universal than any of its religions; 
and all attempts to alter it are mere talk and tomfoolery. 

But the other advantage of the small group is now not so much neglected 

as simply not realised. Here again we have some extraordinary 

delusions spread all over the literature and journalism of our time. 

Those delusions now exist in such a degree that we may say, 

for all practical purposes, that when a thing has been stated 

about a thousand times as obviously true, it is almost certain to be 

obviously false. One such statement may be specially noted here. 

There is undoubtedly something to be said against domesticity 
and in favour of the general drift towards life in hotels, clubs, 
colleges, communal settlements and the rest; or for a social life 
organised on the plan of the great commercial systems of our time. 

But the truly extraordinary suggestion is often made that this 
escape from the home is an escape into greater freedom. 

The change is actually offered as favourable to liberty. 

To anybody who can think, of course, it is exactly the opposite. 

The domestic division of human society is not perfect, being human. 

It does not achieve complete liberty; a thing somewhat difficult 



to do or even to define. But it is a mere matter of arithmetic 
that it puts a larger number of people in supreme control 
of something, and able to shape it to their personal liking, 
than do the vast organisations that rule society outside; 
whether those systems are legal or commercial or even merely social. 

Even if we were only considering the parents, it is plain that 
there are more parents than there are policemen or politicians 
or heads of big businesses or proprietors of hotels. 

As I shall suggest in a moment, the argument actually applies 
indirectly to the children as well as directly to the parents. 

But the main point is that the world outside the home is now under a 
rigid discipline and routine and it is only inside the home that there 
is really a place for individuality and liberty. Anyone stepping 
out of the front-door is obliged to step into a procession, all going 
the same way and to a great extent even obliged to wear the same uniform. 
Business, especially big business, is now organised like an army. 

It is, as some would say, a sort of mild militarism without bloodshed; 
as I should say, a militarism without the military virtues. 

But anyhow, it is obvious that a hundred clerks in a bank or a hundred 
waitresses in a teashop are more regimented and under rule than 
the same individuals when each has gone back to his or her own dwelling 
or lodging, hung with his or her favourite pictures or fragrant with 
his or her favourite cheap cigarettes. But this, which is so obvious 
in the commercial case, is no less true even in the social case. 

In practice, the pursuit of pleasure is merely the pursuit of fashion. 

The pursuit of fashion is merely the pursuit of convention; 
only that it happens to be a new convention. The jazz dances, 
the joy rides, the big pleasure parties and hotel entertainments, 
do not make any more provision for a really independent taste than 
did any of the fashions of the past. If a wealthy young lady wants 
to do what all the other wealthy young ladies are doing, she will 
find it great fun, simply because youth is fun and society is fun. 

She will enjoy being modern exactly as her Victorian grandmother 
enjoyed being Victorian. And quite right too; but it is the enjoyment 
of convention, not the enjoyment of liberty. It is perfectly healthy 
for all young people of all historic periods to herd together, 
to a reasonable extent, and enthusiastically copy each other. 

But in that there is nothing particularly fresh and certainly 
nothing particularly free. The girl who likes shaving her head 
and powdering her nose and wearing short skirts will find the world 
organised for her and will march happily with the procession. 

But a girl who happened to like having her hair down to her heels 
or loading herself with barbaric gauds and trailing garments or 
(most awful of all) leaving her nose in its natural state — 
she will still be well advised to do these things on her own premises. 

If the Duchess does want to play leap frog, she must not start suddenly 
leaping in the manner of a frog across the ballroom of the Babylon Hotel, 
when it is crowded with the fifty best couples professionally 
practising the very latest dance, for the instruction of society. 

The Duchess will find it easier to practise leap frog to the admiration of 
her intimate friends in the old oak-panelled hall of Fitzdragon Castle. 

If the Dean must stand on his head, he will do it with more ease 
and grace in the calm atmosphere of the Deanery than by attempting 
to interrupt the programme of some social entertainment already 
organised for philanthropic purposes. 

If there is this impersonal routine in commercial and even in 
social things, it goes without saying that it exists and always 
must exist in political and legal things. For instance, 
the punishments of the State must be sweeping generalisations. 



It is only the punishments of the home that can possibly be adapted 
to the individual case; because it is only there that the judge can 
know anything of the individual. If Tommy takes a silver thimble 
out of a work-basket, his mother may act very differently according 
as she knows that he did it for fun or for spite or to sell to somebody, 
or to get somebody into trouble. But if Tomkins takes a silver 
thimble out of a shop, the law not only can but must punish him 
according to the rule made for all shoplifters or stealers of silver. 

It is only the domestic discipline that can show any sympathy 
or especially any humour. I do not say that the family always 
does do this; but I say that the State never ought to attempt it. 

So that even if we consider the parents alone as independent princes, 
and the children merely as subjects, the relative freedom of the family 
can and often does work to the advantage of those subjects. 

But so long as the children are children, they will always be the subjects 
of somebody. The question is whether they are to be distributed naturally 
under their natural princes, as the old phrase went, who normally 
feel for them what nobody else will feel, a natural affection. 

It seems to me clear that this normal distribution gives the largest 
amount of liberty to the largest number of people. 

My complaint of the anti-domestic drift is that it is unintelligent. 

People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they 
are undoing. There are a multitude of modern manifestations, from the 
largest to the smallest, ranging from a divorce to a picnic party. 

But each is a separate escape or evasion; and especially an evasion 
of the point at issue. People ought to decide in a philosophical 
fashion whether they desire the traditional social order or not; 
or if there is any particular alternative to be desired. 

As it is they treat the public question merely as a mess or medley 
of private questions. Even in being anti-domestic they are much 
too domestic in their test of domesticity. Each family considers 
only its own case and the result is merely narrow and negative. 

Each case is an exception to a rule that does not exist. The family, 
especially in the modern state, stands in need of considerable 
correction and reconstruction; most things do in the modern state. 

But the family mansion should be preserved or destroyed or rebuilt; 
it should not be allowed to fall to pieces brick by brick because 
nobody has any historic sense of the object of bricklaying. 

For instance, the architects of the restoration should rebuild the house 
with wide and easily opened doors, for the practice of the ancient 
virtue of hospitality. In other words, private property should be 
distributed with sufficiently decent equality to allow of a margin 
for festive intercourse. But the hospitality of a house will always 
be different from the hospitality of a hotel. And it will be different 
in being more individual, more independent, more interesting than 
the hospitality of a hotel. It is perfectly right that the young 
Browns and the young Robinsons should meet and mix and dance and make 
asses of themselves, according to the design of their Creator. 

But there will always be some difference between the Browns 
entertaining the Robinsons and the Robinsons entertaining the Browns . 

And it will be a difference to the advantage of variety, of personality, 
of the potentialities of the mind of man; or, in other words, 
of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

-/- 

LOGIC AND LAWN TENNIS 


WHEN we say that we doubt the intellectual improvement produced 



by Protestantism and Rationalism and the modern world, there generally 
arises a very confused controversy, which is a sort of tangle 
of terminology. But, broadly speaking, the difference between us 
and our critics is this. They mean by growth an increase of the tangle; 
whereas we mean by thought a disentangling of the tangle. 

Even a short and simple length of straight and untangled wire 
is worth more to us than whole forests of mere entanglement. 

That there are more topics talked about, or more terms used, 
or more people using them, or more books and other authorities cited — 
all this is nothing to us if people misuse the terms, 
misunderstand the topics, invoke the authorities at random and 
without the use of reason; and finally bring out a false result. 

A peasant who merely says, "I have five pigs; if I kill one I shall 
have four pigs," is thinking in an extremely simple and elementary way; 
but he is thinking as clearly and correctly as Aristotle or Euclid. 

But suppose he reads or half-reads newspapers and books of 
popular science. Suppose he starts to call one pig the Land 
and another pig Capital and a third pig Exports, and finally brings 
out the result that the more pigs he kills the more he possesses; 
or that every sow that litters decreases the number of pigs in the world. 
He has learnt economic terminology, merely as a means of becoming 
entangled in economic fallacy. It is a fallacy he could never have fallen 
into while he was grounded in the divine dogma that Pigs is Pigs. 

Now for that sort of intellectual instruction and advancement 
we have no use at all; and in that sense only it is true 
that we prefer the ignorant peasant to the instructed pedant . 

But that is not because we think ignorance better than instruction 
or barbarism better than culture. It is merely that we think 
a short length of the untangled logical chain is better than 
an interminable length of it that is interminably tangled. 

It is merely that we prefer a man to do a sum of simple addition 
right than a sum in long division wrong. 

Now what we observe about the whole current culture of journalism and 
general discussion is that people do not know how to begin to think. 

Not only is their thinking at third and fourth hand, but it always 
starts about three-quarters of the way through the process. 

Men do not know where their own thoughts came from. 

They do not know what their own words imply. They come in at the end 
of every controversy and know nothing of where it began or what it 
is all about. They are constantly assuming certain absolutes, 
which, if correctly defined, would strike even themselves as being 
not absolutes but absurdities. To think thus is to be in a tangle; 
to go on thinking is to be in more and more of a tangle. 

And at the back of all there is always something understood; 
which is really something misunderstood. 

For instance, I read an article by the admirable Mr. Tilden, the great 
tennis-player, who was debating what is wrong with English Tennis. 

"Nothing can save English Tennis, " he said, except certain 
reforms of a fundamental sort, which he proceeded to explain. 

The English, it appears, have a weird and unnatural way of regarding 
tennis as a game, or thing to be enjoyed. He admitted that this 
has been part of a sort of amateur spirit in everything which is 
(as he very truly noted) also a part of the national character. 

But all this stands in the way of what he called saving English Tennis. 

He meant what some would call making it perfect, and others would call 
making it professional. Now, I take that as a very typical passage, 
taken from the papers at random, and containing the views of a keen 
and acute person on a subject that he thoroughly understands. 



But what he does not understand is the thing which he supposes 
to be understood. He thoroughly knows his subject and yet he does 
not know what he is talking about; because he does not know 
what he is taking for granted. He does not realise the relation 
of means and ends, or axioms and inferences, in his own philosophy. 

And nobody would probably be more surprised and even legitimately 
indignant than he, if I were to say that the first principles of his 
philosophy appear to be as follows: (1) There is in the nature of things 

a certain absolute and divine Being, whose name is Mr. Lawn Tennis. 

(2) All men exist for the good and glory of this Mr. Tennis and 
are bound to approximate to his perfections and fulfil his will. 

(3) To this higher duty they are bound to surrender their natural 
desire for enjoyment in this life. (4) They are bound to put 
this loyalty first; and to love it more passionately than 
patriotic tradition, the preservation of their own national type 
and national culture; not to mention even their national virtues. 

That is the creed or scheme of doctrine that is here developed 
without being defined. The only way for us to save the game 

of Lawn Tennis is to prevent it from being a game. The only way 
to save English Tennis is to prevent it from being English. 

It does not occur to such thinkers that some people may possibly 
like it because it is English and enjoy it because it is enjoyable. 

There is some abstract divine standard in the thing, to which it is 
everybody's duty to rise, at any sacrifice of pleasure or affection. 

When Christians say this of the sacrifices made for Christ, 
it sounds rather a hard saying. But when tennis-players say it 
about the sacrifices demanded by tennis, it sounds quite ordinary 
and casual in the confusion of current thought and expression. 

And nobody notices that a sort of human sacrifice is being offered 
to a sort of new and nameless god. 

In the good old days of Victorian rationalism it used to be 
the conventional habit to scoff at St. Thomas Aquinas and the 
mediaeval theologians; and especially to repeat perpetually a well-worn 
joke about the man who discussed how many angels could dance on 
the point of a needle. The comfortable and commercial Victorians, 
with their money and merchandise, might well have felt a sharper 
end of the same needle, even if it was the other end of it. 

It would have been good for their souls to have looked for 
that needle, not in the haystack of mediaeval metaphysics, 
but in the neat needle-case of their own favourite pocket Bible. 

It would have been better for them to meditate, not on how many angels 
could go on the point of a needle, but on how many camels could go 
through the eye of it. But there is another comment on this curious 
joke or catchword, which is more relevant to our purpose here. 

If the mediaeval mystic ever did argue about angels standing 

on a needle, at least he did not argue as if the object of angels 

was to stand on a needle; as if God had created all the Angels 

and Archangels, all the Thrones, Virtues, Powers and Principalities, 

solely in order that there might be something to clothe 

and decorate the unseemly nakedness of the point of a needle. 

But that is the way that modern rationalists reason. 

The mediaeval mystic would not even have said that a needle exists 
to be a standing-ground for angels. The mediaeval mystic would have 
been the first to say that a needle exists to make clothes for men. 

For mediaeval mystics, in their dim transcendental way, were much 
interested in the real reasons for things and the distinction 
between the means and the end. They wanted to know what a thing 
was really for, and what was the dependence of one idea on another. 

And they might even have suggested, what so many journalists seem 



to forget, the paradoxical possibility that Tennis was made for Man 
and not Man for Tennis. 

The Modernists were peculiarly unfortunate when they said that the modern 
world must not be expected to tolerate the old syllogistic methods 
of the Schoolmen. They were proposing to scrap the one mediaeval 
instrument which the modern world will most immediately require. 

There would have been a far better case for saying that the 
revival of Gothic architecture has been sentimental and futile; 
that the Pre-Raphaelite movement in art was only an eccentric episode; 
that the fashionable use of the word "Guild" for every possible sort 
of social institution was affected and artificial; that the feudalism 
of Young England was very different from that of Old England. 

But this method of clean-cut deduction, with the definition 
of the postulates and the actual answering of the question, 
is something of which the whole of our newspaper-flattered society 
is in sharp and instant need; as the poisoned are in need of medicine. 

I have here taken only one example which happened to catch 
my eye out of a hundred thousand that flash past every hour. 

And as Tennis, like every other good game, has to be played 
with the head as well as the hand, I think it highly desirable 
that it should be occasionally discussed at least as intelligently 
as it is played. 

-/- 

OBSTINATE ORTHODOXY 

I HAVE been asked to explain something about myself which seems 
to be regarded as very extraordinary. The problem has been 
presented to me in the form of a cutting from a very flattering 
American article, which yet contained a certain suggestion of wonder. 

So far as I can understand, it is thought extraordinary that a man 
should be ordinary. I am ordinary in the correct sense of the term; 
which means the acceptance of an order; a Creator and the Creation, 
the common sense of gratitude for Creation, life and love as gifts 
permanently good, marriage and chivalry as laws rightly controlling them, 
and the rest of the normal traditions of our race and religion. 

It is also thought a little odd that I regard the grass as green, 
even after some newly-discovered Slovak artist has painted it grey; 
that I think daylight very tolerable in spite of thirteen Lithuanian 
philosophers sitting in a row and cursing the light of day; 
and that, in matters more polemical, I actually prefer weddings 
to divorces and babies to Birth Control. These eccentric views, 
which I share with the overwhelming majority of mankind, 
past and present, I should not attempt to defend here one by one. 

And I only give a general reply for a particular reason. 

I wish to make it unmistakably plain that my defence of these sentiments 
is not sentimental. It would be easy to gush about these things; 
but I defy the reader, after reading this, to find the faintest 
trace of the tear of sensibility. I hold this view not because it 
is sensibility, but because it is sense. 

On the contrary, it is the sceptics who are the sentimentalists. 

More than half the "revolt" and the talk of being advanced 
and progressive is simply a weak sort of snobbishness which takes 
the form of a worship of Youth. Some men of my generation delight 
in declaring that they are of the Party of the Young and defending 
every detail of the latest fashions or freaks. If I do not do that, 
it is for the same reason that I do not dye my hair or wear stays. 



But even when it is less despicable than that, the current phrase 
that everything must be done for youth, that the rising generation 
is all that matters, is in sober fact a piece of pure sentimentalism. 

It is also, within reason, a perfectly natural piece of sentiment. 

All healthy people like to see the young enjoying themselves; 

but if we turn that pleasure into a principle, we are sentimentalists. 

If we desire the greatest happiness of the greatest number, 
it will be obvious that the greatest number, at any given moment, 
are rather more likely to be between twenty-five and seventy 
than to be between seventeen and twenty-five. Sacrificing 
everything to the young will be like working only for the rich. 

They will be a privileged class and the rest will be snobs 
or slaves. Moreover, the young will always have a fair amount 
of fun under the worst conditions; if we really wish to console 
the world, it will be much more rational to console the old. 

This is what I call facing facts; and I have continued to 
believe in most of these traditions because they are facts. 

I could give a great many other examples; for instance, chivalry. 

Chivalry is not the romantic, but the realistic, view of the sexes. 

It is so realistic that the real reasons for it cannot always 
be given in print . 

If those called free-thinkers are sentimentalists, those called 
free-lovers are open and obvious sentimentalists. We can always convict 
such people of sentimentalism by their weakness for euphemism. The phrase 
they use is always softened and suited for journalistic appeals. 

They talk of free love when they mean something quite different, 
better defined as free lust. But being sentimentalists they feel 
bound to simper and coo over the word "love." They insist on talking 
about Birth Control when they mean less birth and no control. 

We could smash them to atoms, if we could be as indecent 
in our language as they are immoral in their conclusions. 

And as it is with morals, so it is with religion. The general notion 
that science establishes agnosticism is a sort of mystification produced 
by talking Latin and Greek instead of plain English. Science is 
the Latin for knowledge. Agnosticism is the Greek for ignorance. 

It is not self-evident that ignorance is the goal of knowledge. 

It is the ignorance and not the knowledge that produces the current 
notion that free thought weakens theism. It is the real world, 
that we see with our own eyes, that obviously unfolds a plan of things 
that fit into each other. It is only a remote and misty legend that 
ever pretended to explain it by the automatic advantage of the "fit." 

As a fact, modern evolutionists, even when they are still Darwinians, 
do not pretend that the theory explains all varieties and adaptations. 
Those who know are rather rescuing Darwin at the expense of Darwinism. 

But it is those who do not know who doubt or deny; it is 
typical that their myth is actually called the Missing Link. 

They actually know nothing of their own argument except that it breaks 
down somewhere. But it is worth while to ask why this loose legend 
has such power over many; and I will proceed to my suggestion. 

I have not changed my mind; nor, indeed, have they changed their mind. 

They have only changed their mood. 

What we call the intellectual world is divided into two types 
of people — those who worship the intellect and those who use it. 

There are exceptions; but, broadly speaking, they are never 
the same people. Those who use the intellect never worship it; 
they know too much about it. Those who worship the intellect 
never use it; as you can see by the things they say about it. 

Hence there has arisen a confusion about intellect and intellectualism; 



and, as the supreme expression of that confusion, something that is called 

in many countries the Intelligentsia, and in France more especially, 

the Intellectuals. It is found in practice to consist of clubs 

and coteries of people talking mostly about books and pictures, 

but especially new books and new pictures; and about music, so long as it 

is very modern music; or what some would call very unmusical music. 

The first fact to record about it is that what Carlyle said 
of the world is very specially true of the intellectual world — 
that it is mostly fools. Indeed, it has a curious attraction 
for complete fools, as a warm fire has for cats. I have frequently 
visited such societies, in the capacity of a common or normal fool, 
and I have almost always found there a few fools who were more 
foolish than I had imagined to be possible to man born of woman; 
people who had hardly enough brains to be called half-witted. But 
it gave them a glow within to be in what they imagined to be the 
atmosphere of intellect; for they worshipped it like an unknown god. 

I could tell many stories of that world. I remember a venerable man 
with a very long beard who seemed to live at one of these clubs. 

At intervals he would hold up his hand as if for silence and 
preface his remarks by saying, "A Thought." And then he would 
say something that sounded as if a cow had suddenly spoken 
in a drawing-room. I remember once a silent and much-enduring man 
(I rather think it was my friend Mr. Edgar Jepson, the novelist) 
who could bear it no longer and cried with a sort of expiring gasp, 

"But, Good God, man, you don't call that a THOUGHT, do you?" 

But that was pretty much the quality of the thought of such thinkers, 
especially of the freethinkers. Out of this social situation arises 
one sort of exception to the rule. Intelligence does exist even 
in the Intelligentsia. It does sometimes happen that a man of real 
talent has a weakness for flattery, even the flattery of fools. 

He would rather say something that silly people think clever than 
something which only clever people could perceive to be true. 

Oscar Wilde was a man of this type. When he said somewhere that 
an immoral woman is the sort of woman a man never gets tired of, 
he used a phrase so baseless as to be perfectly pointless. 

Everybody knows that a man may get tired of a whole procession 
of immoral women, especially if he is an immoral man. 

That was "a Thought"; otherwise something to be uttered, 
with uplifted hand, to people who could not think at all. 

In their poor muddled minds there was some vague connection between 
wit and cynicism; so they never applauded him so warmly as a wit, 
as when he was cynical without being witty. But when he said, 

"A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value 
of nothing, " he made a statement (in excellent epigrammatic form) 
which really meant something. But it would have meant his own 
immediate dethronement if it could have been understood by those 
who only enthroned him for being cynical. 

Anyhow, it is in this intellectual world, with its many fools 
and few wits and fewer wise men, that there goes on perpetually 
a sort of ferment of fashionable revolt and negation. From this 
comes all that is called destructive criticism; though, as a matter 
of fact, the new critic is generally destroyed by the next critic 
long before he has had any chance of destroying anything else. 

When people say solemnly that the world is in revolt against 
religion or private property or patriotism or marriage, 
they mean that this world is in revolt against them; or rather, 
is in permanent revolt against everything. Now, as a matter 
of fact, this world has a certain excuse for being always in 
that state of excitement, apart from mere fuss and mere folly. 



The reason is rather an important one; and I would ask anyone 
who really does want to think, and especially to think freely, 
to pause upon it seriously for a moment. It arises from the fact 
that these people are so much concerned with the study of Art . 

It collapses into mere drivelling and despair, because they try 
to transfer their treatment of art to the treatment of morals 
and philosophy. In this they make a bad blunder in reasoning. 

But then, as I have explained, intellectuals are not very intellectual. 

The Arts, exist, as we should put it in our primeval fashion, 
to show forth the glory of God; or, to translate the same thing 
in terms of our psychology, to awaken and keep alive the sense 
of wonder in man. The success of any work of art is achieved 
when we say of any subject, a tree or a cloud or a human character, 

"I have seen that a thousand times and I never saw it before." 

Now for this purpose a certain variation of venue is natural 

and even necessary. Artists change what they call their attack; 

for it is to some extent their business to make it a surprise attack. 

They have to throw a new light on things; and it is not surprising 

if it is sometimes an invisible ultra-violet ray or one rather 

resembling a black ray of madness or death. But when the artist extends 

the eccentric experiment from art to real life, it is quite different. 

He is like an absent-minded sculptor turning his chisel from chipping 
at the bust to chipping at the bald head of the distinguished sitter. 

And these anarchic artists do suffer a little from absence of Mind. 

Let us take a practical case for the sake of simplicity. 

Many moderns will be heard scoffing at what they would call 
"chocolate-box art"; meaning an insipid and sickly art. And it is easy 
to call up the sort of picture that might well make anybody ill. 

I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that we are looking sadly 
at the outside of a chocolate-box (now, I need hardly say, empty) 
and that we see painted on it in rather pallid colours a young 
woman with golden ringlets gazing from a balcony and holding 
a rose in the spot-light caused by a convenient ray of moonlight. 

Any similar touches may be added to the taste or distaste of the critic; 
she may be convulsively clasping a letter or conspicuously wearing 
an engagement ring or languidly waving farewell to a distant gentleman 
in a gondola; or anything else I can think of, calculated to cause 
pain to the sensitive critic. I sympathise with the critic's feeling; 
but I think he goes quite wrong in his thinking. 

Now, what do we mean when we say that this is a silly picture, 
or a stale subject, or something very difficult to bear, 
even when we are fortified by chocolates to endure it? 

We mean it is possible to have too much of a good thing; 

to have too many chocolate-boxes, as to have too many chocolates. 

We mean that it is not a picture, but a picture of a picture. 

Ultimately it is a picture of innumerable pictures; not a real 
picture of a rose or a girl or a beam of moonlight. In other words, 
artists have copied artists, right away back to the first sentimental 
pictures of the Romantic Movement. 

But roses have not copied roses. Moonbeams have not imitated 
each other. And though a woman may copy women in externals, 
it is only in externals and not in existence; her womanhood 
was not copied from any other woman. Considered as realities, 
the rose and the moon and the woman are simply themselves. 

Suppose that scene to be a real one, and there is nothing particularly 
imitative about it. The flower is unquestionably fresh as the young 



woman is unquestionably young. The rose is a real object, 
which would smell as sweet by any other name, or by no name. 

The girl is a particular person, whose personality is entirely new 
to the world and whose experiences are entirely new to herself. 

If she does indeed choose to stand in that attitude on that balcony 
holding that botanical specimen (which seems improbable) , we have 
no right to doubt that she has her own reasons for doing so. 

In short, when once we conceive the thing as reality, 
we have no reason whatever to dismiss it as mere repetition. 

So long as we are thinking of the thing as copied mechanically 
and for money, as a piece of monotonous and mercenary ornament, 
we naturally feel that the flower is in a special sense 
an artificial flower and that the moonlight is all moonshine. 

We feel inclined to welcome even wild variations in the decorative style 
and to admire the new artist who will paint the rose black, 
lest we should forget that it is a deep red, or the moonshine green, 
that we may realise it is something more subtle than white. 

But the moon is the moon and the rose is the rose; and we do 
not expect the real things to alter. Nor is there any reason 
to expect the rules about them to alter. Nor is there any reason, 
so far as this question is concerned, to expect the woman to alter 
her attitude either about the beauty of the rose or the obligations 
of the engagement-ring. These things, considered as real things, 
are quite unaffected by the variation of artistic attack in 
fictitious things. The moon will continue to affect the tides, 
whether we paint it blue or green or pink with purple spots. 

And the man who imagines that artistic revolutions must always affect 
morals is like a man who should say, "I am so bored with seeing 
pink roses painted on chocolate-boxes that I refuse to believe 
that roses grow well in a clay soil." 

In short, what the critics would call romanticism is in fact 

the only form of realism. It is also the only form of rationalism. 

The more a man uses his reason upon realities, the more he will see 
that the realities remain much the same, though the representations are 
very different. And it is only the representations that are repetitions. 
The sensations are always sincere; the individuals are always individual 
If the real girl is experiencing a real romance, she is experiencing 
something old, but not something stale. If she has plucked something 
from a real rose-tree, she is holding a very ancient symbol, but a very 
recent rose. And it is exactly in so far as a man can clear his head, 
so as to see actual things as they are, that he will see these things 
as permanently important as they are. Exactly in so far as his head 
is confused with current fashions and aesthetic modes of the moment, 
he will see nothing about it except that it is like a picture on 
a chocolate-box, and not like a picture at the Post-Futurist Gallery. 
Exactly in so far as he is thinking about real people, he will 
see that they are really romantic. Exactly in so far as he is 
thinking only about pictures and poems and decorative styles, 
he will think that romance is a false or old-fashioned style. 

He can only see people as imitating pictures; whereas the real 
people are not imitating anything. They are only being themselves — 
as they will always be. Roses remain radiant and mysterious, 
however many pink rosebuds are sprinkled like pips over cheap wallpapers 
Falling in love remains radiant and mysterious, however threadbare 
be the thousandth repetition of a rhyme as a valentine or a 
cracker-motto. To see this fact is to live in a world of facts. 

To be always thinking of the banality of bad wallpapers and valentines 
is to live in a world of fictions. 



Now the main truth about all this sceptical revolt, and all 
the rest of it, is that it was born in a world of fictions. 

It came from the Intelligentsia, who were perpetually 
discussing novels and plays and pictures instead of people. 

They insisted on putting "real life" on the stage and never saw it 
in the street. They professed to be putting realism into their 
novels when there was less and less of it in their conversation, 
as compared with the conversation of the common people. 

And that perpetual experiment, and shifting of the standpoint, 
which was natural enough in an artist seeking for certain effects 
(as it is natural in a photographer hovering round and focussing 
and fussing with his camera) , was wholly inapplicable to any 
study of the permanent rules and relations of society. 

When these people began to play about with morals and metaphysics, 
they simply produced a series of mad worlds where they might 
have been harmlessly producing a series of mad pictures. 

Pictures are always meant to catch a certain aspect, at a certain angle, 
in a certain light; sometimes in light that is almost as brief 
as lightning. But when the artists became anarchists and began 
to exhibit the community and the cosmos by these flashes 
of lightning, the result was not realism but simply nightmare. 

Because a particular painter, for a particular purpose, 

might paint the red rose black, the pessimist deduced that the red 

rose of love and life was really as black as it was painted. 

Because one artist, from one angle, seized a momentary impression 
of moonlight as green, the philosopher solemnly put on a pair 
of green spectacles and declared that it was now a solid scientific 
certainty that the moon must be crawling with maggots, because it 
was made of green cheese. 

In short, there might have been some value in the old cry 

of art for the artists; if it had meant that the artists 

would confine themselves to the medium of art. As a fact, 

they were always meddling with the medium of morals and religion; 

and they imported into them the unrest, the changing moods 

and the merely experimental tricks of their own trade. But a man 

with a solid sense of reality can see that this is utterly unreal. 

Whatever the laws of life and love and human relations may be, 

it is monstrously improbable that they ought to be changed with every 

fashion in poetry any more than with every fashion in pantaloons. 

It is insane that there should be a new pattern of hearts or heads 
whenever there is a new pattern of hats. These things are realities, 
like a high tide or a clay soil; and you do not get rid of high tides and 
clay soils by calling roses and moonlight old-fashioned and sentimental. 

I will venture to say, therefore, and I trust without undue vanity, 
that I have remained rooted in certain relations and traditions, 
not because I am a sentimentalist or even a romanticist; but because I 
am a realist. And I realise that morals must not change with moods, 
as Cubism must not mean chopping up real houses into cubes, 
or Vorticism swallowing real ships in whirlpools. 

I have not changed my views on these things because there has 
never been any reason to change them. For anybody impelled 
by reason and not by running with a crowd will, for instance, 
perceive that there are always the same arguments for a Purpose 
and therefore a Personality in things, if he is a thinking person. 

Only it is now made easy for him to admit vaguely that there 
may be a Purpose, while denying that there is a Personality, 
so long as he happens to be a very unthinking person. 

It is quite as certain as it ever was that life is a gift of God 



immensely valuable and immensely valued, and anybody can prove it 
by putting a pistol to the head of a pessimist. Only a certain 
sort of modern does not like any problem presented to his head; 
and would dislike a plain question almost as much as a pistol. 

It is obvious common sense, and obviously consonant to real life, 
that romantic love is normal to youth and has its natural 
development in marriage and parenthood as the corresponding 
conditions of age. None of the nonsense talked about this, 
that or the other individual irritation or licence has ever made 
any difference to that solid social truth, for anyone who cares 
whether things are true, apart from whether they are trite. 

It is the man who cannot see that a thing is true, although it is trite 
who is very truly a victim of mere words and verbal associations. 

He is the fool who has grown so furious with paper roses that he will 
not believe that the real rose has a root; nor (till he discovers 
it with an abrupt and profane ejaculation) that it has a thorn. 

The truth is that the modern world has had a mental breakdown; 
much more than a moral breakdown. Things are being settled by mere 
associations because there is a reluctance to settle them by arguments. 
Nearly all the talk about what is advanced and what is antiquated 
has become a sort of giggling excitement about fashions. 

The most modern of the moderns stare at a picture of a man making love 
to a lady in a crinoline with exactly the same sort of vacant grin 
with which yokels stare at a stranger in an outlandish sort of hat. 

They regard their fathers of another age exactly as the most 
insular would regard the foreigners from another country. 

They seem mentally incapable of getting any further than 
the statement that our girls are shingled and short-skirted 
while their silly old great-grandmothers wore ringlets and hoops. 

That seems to satisfy all their appetite for satire; they are a 
simple race, a little like savages. They are exactly like the sort 
of cockney tripper who would roar with laughter because French 
soldiers wore red trousers and blue coats, while English soldiers 
were dressed properly in blue trousers and red coats. I have not 
altered my lines of thought for people who think in this fashion. 

Why should I? 

-/- 

THE USUAL ARTICLE 

THE Editor of an evening paper published recently what he 
announced as, and even apologized for as "an unusual article." 

He anxiously guarded himself from expressing any opinion on the 
dreadful and dangerous views which the unusual article set forth. 
Needless to say, before I had read five lines of the unusual article, 

I knew it was a satisfactory sample of the usual article. 

It was even a careful and correct copy of the usual article; 
a sort of prize specimen, as if a thing could be unusually usual. 

I had read the article before, of course — thousands and thousands 
of times (as it seems to me) — and had always found it the same; 
but never before, somehow, had it seemed so exactly the same. 

There are things of which the world to-day is subconsciously very weary 
It does not always know what they are; for they commonly bear 
large though faded labels, describing them as the New Movement or 
the Latest Discovery. For instance, men are already as tired of the 
Socialist State as if they had been living in it for a thousand years. 
But there are some things on which boredom is becoming acute. 



It is now very near the surface; and may suddenly wake up in the form 
of suicide or murder or tearing newspapers with the teeth. 

So it is with this familiar product, the Usual Article. It is not only 
too usual; it has become intolerably, insupportably , unbearably usual. 

It is appropriately described as "A Woman's Cry to the Churches." 

And I beg to announce that, though I am of a heavy and placid habit, 
and have never been accused of any such feminine graces as hysteria, 
yet, if I have to read this article three more times, I shall scream. 

My scream will be entitled, "A Man's Cry to the Newspapers." 

I will repeat somewhat hurriedly what the lady in question cried; 
for the reader knows it already by heart. The message of Christ 
was perfectly "simple": that the cure of everything is Love; 
but since He was killed (I do not quite know why) for making 
this remark, great temples have been put up to Him and horrid 
people called priests have given the world nothing but "stones, 
amulets, formulas, shibboleths." They also "quarrel eternally among 
themselves as to the placing of a button or the bending of a knee." 

All this gives no comfort to the unhappy Christian, who apparently wishes 
to be comforted only by being told that he has a duty to his neighbour. 
"How many men in the time of their passing get comfort out of the thought 
of the Thirty-Nine Articles, Predestination, Transubstantiation, 
the doctrine of eternal punishment, and the belief that Christ will 
return on the Seventh Day?" The items make a curious catalogue; 
and the last item I find especially mysterious. But I can only say that, 
if Christ was the giver of the original and really comforting message 
of love, I should have thought it did make a difference whether He 
returned on the Seventh Day. For the rest of that singular list, 

I should probably find it necessary to distinguish. I certainly 
never gained any deep and heartfelt consolation from the thought 
of the Thirty-Nine Articles. I never heard of anybody in particular 
who did. Of the idea of Predestination there are broadly two views; 
the Calvinist and the Catholic; and it would make a most uncommon 
difference to my comfort, if I held the former instead of the latter. 

It is the difference between believing that God knows, as a fact, 
that I choose to go to the devil; and believing that God has 
given me to the devil, without my having any choice at all. 

As to Transubstantiation, it is less easy to talk currently about that; 
but I would gently suggest that, to most ordinary outsiders with any 
common sense, there would be a considerable practical difference 
between Jehovah pervading the universe and Jesus Christ coming 
into the room. 

But I touch rapidly and reluctantly on these examples, because they 
exemplify a much wider question of this interminable way of talking. 

It consists of talking as if the moral problem of man were 
perfectly simple, as everyone knows it is not; and then depreciating 
attempts to solve it by quoting long technical words, and talking 
about senseless ceremonies without enquiring about their sense. 

In other words, it is exactly as if somebody were to say about 
the science of medicine: "All I ask is Health; what could be simpler 

than the beautiful gift of Health? Why not be content to enjoy 
for ever the glow of youth and the fresh enjoyment of being fit? 

Why study dry and dismal sciences of anatomy and physiology; 

why enquire about the whereabouts of obscure organs of the human body? 

Why pedantically distinguish between what is labelled a poison 
and what is labelled an antidote, when it is so simple to 
enjoy Health? Why worry with a minute exactitude about the number 
of drops of laudanum or the strength of a dose of chloral, when it 
is so nice to be healthy? Away with your priestly apparatus of 



stethoscopes and clinical thermometers; with your ritualistic mummery 
of feeling pulses, putting out tongues, examining teeth, and the rest! 
The god Esculapius came on earth solely to inform us that Life 
is on the whole preferable to Death; and this thought will console 
many dying persons unattended by doctors." 

In other words, the Usual Article, which is now some ten thousand 
issues old, was always stuff and nonsense even when it was new. 

There may be, and there has been, pedantry in the medical profession. 
There may be, and there has been, theology that was thin or dry or 
without consolation for men. But to talk as if it were possible for any 
science to attack any problem, without developing a technical language, 
and a method always methodical and often minute, merely means that 
you are a fool and have never really attacked a problem at all. 

Quite apart from the theory of a Church, if Christ had remained 
on earth for an indefinite time, trying to induce men to love 
one another. He would have found it necessary to have some tests, 
some methods, some way of dividing true love from false love, 
some way of distinguishing between tendencies that would ruin 
love and tendencies that would restore it. You cannot make 
a success of anything, even loving, entirely without thinking. 

All this is so obvious that it would seem unnecessary to repeat it; 
and yet it is necessary to repeat it, because it is the flat 
contradiction of it that is now incessantly repeated. Its flatness 
stretches around us like a vast wilderness on every side. 

It is a character of the Usual Article that it alludes occasionally 
to the New Religion; but always in a rather timid and remote fashion. 

It suggests that there will be a better and broader belief; 

though it seldom touches on the belief, but only on the broadness. 

There is never in it by any chance anything resembling even 
the note of the true innovator. For the true innovator must be 
in some sense a legislator. We may put it in a hostile fashion, 
by saying that the revolutionist always becomes the tyrant. 

We may put it in a friendly-fashion, by saying that the reformer must 

return to the idea of form. But anybody really founding a new religion, 
even a false religion, must have a certain quality of responsibility. 

He must make himself responsible for saying that some things shall 
be forbidden and some permitted; that there shall be a certain 
plan or system that must be defended from destruction. And all 
the things in any way resembling new religions, to do them justice, 
do show this quality and suffer this disadvantage. Christian Science 
is theoretically based on peace and almost on the denial of struggle. 

But for all that there has been not a little struggle in the councils 
of that creed; and the relations of all the successors of Mrs. Eddy 
have by no means been relations of peace. I do not say it as a taunt, 
but rather as a tribute; I should say that these proceedings did 
prove that the people involved were trying to found a real religion. 

It is a compliment to Christian Scientists to say that they also had 
their tests and their creeds, their anathemas and their excommunications 
their encyclicals and their heresy-hunts. But it is a compliment 
to Christian Scientists which they can hardly use as an insult 
to Christians. Communism, even in its final form of Marxian materialism 
had some of the qualities of a fresh and sincere faith. It had one of 
them at least; that it did definitely expel men for denying the creed. 
Both the Communist and the Christian Scientist were under this 
grave disadvantage; that they did turn a faith into a fact. 

There is such a thing as a Bolshevist government and it governs, even if 
it misgoverns. There are such things as Christian Science healers; 
there probably is such a thing as Christian Science healing. 



even if we do not fully admit that the healing is health. 

There is a Church in active operation; and for that reason it exhibits 
all the dogmas and differences charged against the Church of Christ. 

But the philosophy expressed in the Usual Article avoids all these 
disadvantages by never coming into the world of reality at all. 

Its god is afraid to be born; its scripture is afraid to be written; 
it only manages to remain as the New Religion by always coming 
to-morrow and never to-day. It puffs itself out with spiritual pride, 
because it does not impose what it cannot even invent . It shines 
with Pharisaical self-satisfaction, because there are no crimes 
committed for its creed and no creed to be the motive of its crimes. 

This sort of critic is a surgeon who never performs an unsuccessful 
operation because he never operates; a soldier who never falls because 
he never fights. Anybody can talk for ever about a non-existent 
religion which shall be free from all the evils of existence. 

Anybody can dream of that entirely humane and harmonious Christianity, 
whose Christ is never born and never crucified. It is so easy to do, 
that half a hundred people in the papers and the public discussions 
have been doing nothing else for the last twenty or thirty years. 

But it is every bit as futile as applied to a spiritual ideal as it 
would be if applied to a scientific theory or a political programme; 
and I only mention it because I have just heard it for the hundredth time 
and feel a faint hope that I may be mentioning it for the last time. 

-/- 

WHY I AM A CATHOLIC 

A LEADING article in a daily paper was recently devoted 
to the New Prayer Book; without having anything very new to 
say about it. For it mostly consisted in repeating for the 
nine-hundredth-and-ninety-nine-thousandth time that what the ordinary 
Englishman wants is a religion without dogma (whatever that may be) , 
and that the disputes about Church matters were idle and barren 
on both sides. Only, suddenly remembering that this equalisation 
of both sides might possibly involve some slight concession or 
consideration for our side, the writer hastily corrected himself. 

He proceeded to suggest that though it is wrong to be dogmatic, 
it is essential to be dogmatically Protestant. He suggested that 
the ordinary Englishman (that useful character) was quite convinced, 
in spite of his aversion to all religious differences, that it was vital 
to religion to go on differing from Catholicism. He is convinced 
(we were told) that "Britain is as Protestant as the sea is salt." 

Gazing reverently at the profound Protestantism of Mr. Michael Arlen 
or Mr. Noel Coward, or the latest jazz dance in Mayfair, we might 
be tempted to ask: If the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall 

it be salted? But since we may rightly deduce from this passage 
that Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. James Douglas and Mr. Hannen Swaffer, 
and all their following, are indeed stern and unbending Protestants 
(and as we know that Protestants are famous for the close and 
passionate study of the Scriptures, unhindered by Pope or priest) , 
we might even take the liberty of interpreting the saying in the 
light of a less familiar text. Is it possible that in comparing 
Protestantism to the salt of the sea they were haunted with some 
faint memory of another passage, in which the same Authority 
spoke of one single and sacred fountain that is of living water, 
because it is of life-giving water, and really quenches the thirst 
of men; while all other pools and puddles are distinguished from 
it by the fact that those who drink of them will thirst again. 

It is a thing that does occasionally happen to people who prefer 



to drink salt water. 


This is perhaps a somewhat provocative way of opening the statement 
of my strongest conviction; but I would respectfully plead that 
the provocation came from the Protestant. When Protestantism calmly 
claims to rule all the souls in the tone of Britannia ruling all 
the seas, it is permissible to retort that the very quintessence 
of such salt can be found thickest in the stagnation of the Dead Sea. 

But it is still more permissible to retort that Protestantism 
is claiming what no religion at this moment can possibly claim. 

It is calmly claiming the allegiance of millions 
of agnostics, atheists, hedonistic pagans, independent mystics, 
psychic investigators, theists, theosophists, followers of Eastern 
cults and jolly fellows living like the beasts that perish. 

To pretend that all these are Protestants is considerably 
to lower the prestige and significance of Protestantism. 

It is to make it merely negative; and salt is not negative. 

Taking this as a text and test of the present problem 
of religious choice, we find ourselves faced from the first 
with a dilemma about the traditional religion of our fathers. 
Protestantism as here named is either a negative or a positive thing. 

If Protestantism is a positive thing, there is no doubt whatever 
that it is dead. In so far as it really was a set of special spiritual 
beliefs it is no longer believed. The genuine Protestant creed 
is now hardly held by anybody--least of all by the Protestants. 

So completely have they lost faith in it, that they have mostly 
forgotten what it was. If almost any modern man be asked whether we 
save our souls solely through our theology, or whether doing good 
(to the poor, for instance) will help us on the road to God, 
he would answer without hesitation that good works are probably 
more pleasing to God than theology. It would probably come 
as quite a surprise to him to learn that, for three hundred years, 
the faith in faith alone was the badge of a Protestant, the faith 
in good works the rather shameful badge of a disreputable Papist. 

The ordinary Englishman (to bring in our old friend once more) 
would now be in no doubt whatever on the merits of the long quarrel 
between Catholicism and Calvinism. And that was the most important 
and intellectual quarrel between Catholicism and Protestantism. 

If he believes in a God at all, or even if he does not, he would quite 
certainly prefer a God who has made all men for joy, and desires 
to save them all, to a God who deliberately made some for involuntary 
sin and immortal misery. But that was the quarrel; and it was the 
Catholic who held the first and the Protestant who held the second. 

The modern man not only does not share, he does not even understand, 
the unnatural aversion of the Puritans to all art and beauty 
in relation to religion. Yet that was the real Protestant protest; 
and right into the Mid-Victorian time Protestant matrons 
were shocked at a white gown, let alone a coloured vestment. 

On practically every essential count on which the Reformation actually 
put Rome in the dock, Rome has since been acquitted by the jury 
of the whole world. 

It Is perfectly true that we can find real wrongs, provoking rebellion, 
in the Roman Church just before the Reformation. What we cannot 
find is one ot those real wrongs that the Reformation reformed. 

For instance, it was an abominable abuse that the corruption of the 
monasteries sometimes permitted a rich noble to play the patron and even 
play at being the Abbot, or draw on the revenues supposed to belong 
to a brotherhood of poverty and charity. But all that the Reformation 



did was to allow the same rich noble to take over ALL the revenue, 
to seize the whole house and turn it into a palace or a pig-sty, 
and utterly stamp out the last legend of the poor brotherhood. 

The worst things in worldly Catholicism were made worse by Protestantism 
But the best things remained somehow through the era of corruption; 
nay, they survived even the era of reform. They survive to-day in all 
Catholic countries, not only in the colour and poetry and popularity 
of religion, but in the deepest lessons of practical psychology. 

And so completely are they justified, after the judgment 

of four centuries, that every one of them is now being copied, 

even by those who condemned it; only it is often caricatured. 

Psycho-analysis is the Confessional without the safeguards 

of the Confessional; Communism is the Franciscan movement without 

the moderating balance of the Church; and American sects, having howled 

for three centuries at the Popish theatricality and mere appeal 

to the senses, now "brighten" their services by super-theatrical films 

and rays of rose-red light falling on the head of the minister. 

If we had a ray of light to throw about, we should not throw it 
on the minister. 

Next, Protestantism may be a negative thing. In other words, 
it may be a new and totally different list of charges against Rome; 
and only in continuity because it is still against Rome. 

That is very largely what it is; and that is presumably what 
the DAILY EXPRESS really meant, when it said that our country 
and our countrymen are soaked in Protestantism as in salt. 

In other words, the legend that Rome is wrong anyhow, is still 
a living thing, though all the features of the monster are now 
entirely altered in the caricature. Even this is an exaggeration, 
as applied to the England of to-day; but there is still a truth in it. 
Only the truth, when truly realised, can hardly be very satisfactory 
to honest and genuine Protestants. For, after all, what sort 
of a tradition is this, that tells a different story every day 
or every decade, and is content so long as all the contradictory 
tales are told against one man or one institution? What sort of holy 
cause is it to inherit from our ancestors, that we should go on 
hating something and being consistent only in hatred; being fickle 
and false in everything else, even in our reason for hating it? 

Are we really to settle down seriously to make up a new set of stories 
against the bulk of our f ellow-Christians ? Is that Protestantism; 
and is that worth comparing to patriotism or the sea? 

Anyhow, that was the situation I found myself facing when I 
began to think of these things, the child of a purely Protestant 
ancestry and, in the ordinary sense, of a Protestant household. 

But as a fact my family, having become Liberal, was no longer Protestant 
I was brought up a sort of Universalist and Unitarian; 
at the feet of that admirable man, Stopford Brooke. 

It was not Protestantism save in a very negative sense. 

Often it was the flat contrary of Protestantism, even in that sense. 

For instance, the Universalist did not believe in hell; and he was 
emphatic in saying that heaven was a happy state of mind — "a temper." 

But he had the sense to see that most men do not live or die in a 
state of mind so happy that it will alone ensure them a heaven. 

If heaven is a temper, it is certainly not a universal temper; 

and a good many people pass through this life in a devil of a temper. 

If all these were to have heaven, solely through happiness, 
it seemed clear that something must happen to them first. 

The Universalist therefore believed in a progress after death, 
at once punishment and enlightenment. In other words. 



he believed in Purgatory; though he did not believe in Hell. 

Right or wrong, he obviously and flatly contradicted the Protestant, 
who believed in Hell but not in Purgatory. Protestantism, through its 
whole history, had waged ceaseless war on this one idea of Purgatory 
or Progress beyond the grave. I have come to see in the complete 
Catholic view much deeper truths on all three ideas; truths concerned 
with will and creation and God's most glorious love of liberty. 

But even at the start, though I had no thought of Catholicism, I could 
not see why I should have any concern with Protestantism; 
which had always said the very opposite of what a Liberal is now 
expected to say. 

I found, in plain words, that there was no longer any 
question of clinging to the Protestant faith. It was simply 
a question of whether I should cling to the Protestant feud. 

And to my enormous astonishment, I found a large number of my fellow 
Liberals eager to go on with the Protestant feud, though they no 
longer held the Protestant faith. I have no title to judge them; 
but to me, I confess, it seemed like a rather ugly breach of honour. 

To find out that you have been slandering somebody about something, 
to refuse to apologise, and to make up another more plausible story 
against him, so that you can carry on the spirit of the slander, 
seemed to me at the start a rather poor way of behaving. 

I resolved at least to consider the original slandered institution 
on its own merits and the first and most obvious question was: 

Why were Liberals so very illiberal about it? What was the meaning 
of the feud, so constant and so inconsistent? That question took a long 
time to answer and would now take much too long a time to record. 

But it led me at last to the only logical answer, which every fact 
of life now confirms; that the thing is hated, as nothing else is hated, 
simply because it is, in the exact sense of the popular phrase, 
like nothing on earth. 

There is barely space here to indicate this one thing out of the 
thousand things that confirm the same fact and confirm each other. 

I would undertake to pick up any topic at random, from pork 

to pyrotechnics, and show that it illustrates the truth of the only 

true philosophy; so realistic is the remark that all roads lead 

to Rome. Out of all these I have here only taken one fact; 

that the thing is pursued age after age by an unreasonable hatred 

that is perpetually changing its reason. Now of nearly all the dead 

heresies it may be said that they are not only dead, but damned; 

that is, they are condemned or would be condemned by common sense, 

even outside the Church, when once the mood and mania of them is passed. 

Nobody now wants to revive the Divine Right of Kings which the first 

Anglicans advanced against the Pope. Nobody now wants to revive 

the Calvinism which the first Puritans advanced against the King. 

Nobody now is sorry that the Iconoclasts were prevented from smashing 
all the statues of Italy. Nobody now is sorry that the Jansenists 
failed to destroy all the dramas of France. Nobody who knows 
anything about the Albigensians regrets that they did not convert 
the world to pessimism and perversion. Nobody who really understands 
the logic of the Lollards (a much more sympathetic set of people) 
really wishes that they had succeeded in taking away all political 
rights and privileges from everybody who was not in a state of grace. 
"Dominion founded on Grace" was a devout ideal, but considered 
as a plan for disregarding an Irish policeman controlling the traffic 
in Piccadilly, until we have discovered whether he has confessed 
recently to his Irish priest, it is wanting in actuality. 

In nine cases out of ten the Church simply stood for sanity and social 



balance against heretics who were sometimes very like lunatics. 

Yet at each separate moment the pressure of the prevalent error 
was very strong; the exaggerated error of a whole generation, 
like the strength of the Manchester School in the 'fifties, 
or of Fabian Socialism as a fashion in my own youth. A study 
of the true historical cases commonly shows us the spirit of the age 
going wrong, and the Catholics at least relatively going right. 

It is a mind surviving a hundred moods. 

As I say, this is only one aspect; but it was the first that affected 
me and it leads on to others. When a hammer has hit the right 
nail on the head a hundred times, there comes a time when we 
think it was not altogether by accident. But these historical 
proofs would be nothing without the human and personal proofs, 
which would need quite a different sort of description. 

It is enough to say that those who know the Catholic practice find 
it not only right, but always right when everything else is wrong; 
making the Confessional the very throne of candour where the world 
outside talks nonsense about it as a sort of conspiracy; 
upholding humility when everybody is praising pride; charged with 
sentimental charity when the world is talking a brutal utilitarianism; 
charged with dogmatic harshness when the world is loud and loose 
with vulgar sentimentalism — as it is to-day. At the place 
where the roads meet there is no doubt of the convergence. 

A man may think all sorts of things, most of them honest and many of 
them true, about the right way to turn in the maze at Hampton Court. 
But he does not think he is in the centre; he knows. 

-/- 

WHAT DO THEY THINK? 

ALL science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. 
Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker 
secret of why he is alive. The Catholic Church remains 
in the best sense a mystery even to believers. It would be 
foolish of them to complain if it is a riddle to unbelievers. 

But in a more practical sense we may well ask a question. What do 
they think it really is? What do they think we think it really is? 
What do they think it is all about, or even supposed to be all about? 
That problem becomes darker and darker for me, the more I stare at it. 
It becomes black as midnight, for instance, when I stare at such 
a sentence as I saw recently in TRUTH, a singularly intelligent 
and often a highly valuable paper. It stated that Rome tolerates, 
in her relation with the Russian Uniats, "strange heresies and even 
bearded and wedded clergy." 

In that one extraordinary phrase, what formless monster begins 
to take form in their visions? In those eight words it is not too 
much to say that every term is startling in its inconsequence. 

As somebody tumbling down the stairs bumps upon every step, 
the writer comes a crash upon every word. The word "strange" 
is strange enough. The word "heresy" is stranger. Perhaps at first 
sight the word "bearded, " with its joyous reminiscences of the game 
of Beaver, may appear the most funny. "Wedded" is also funny. 

Even the "and" between bearded and wedded is funny. But by far 
the funniest and most fantastic thing in all that fantastic sentence 
is the word "even." 


It is not everybody who can thus bestrew a page with comic conjunctions 



and farcical particles of speech. Only a wild unreason, about the whole 
way the thing hangs together, could thus make even the joints and 
hinges of that rickety statement rattle and creak with laughter. 

We can hardly say of this version of the Roman Catholic faith that it 
is a false version, or that it differs from the true version, 
or even that it differs from our version. What is the version; 
and how can it be even their version? There is in the world, 
they would tell us, a powerful and persecuting superstition, 
intoxicated with the impious idea of having a monopoly of 
divine truth, and therefore cruelly crushing and exterminating 
everything else as error. It burns thinkers for thinking, 
discoverers for discovering, philosophers and theologians who differ 
by a hair's breadth from its dogmas; it will tolerate no tiny 
change or shadow of variety even among its friends and followers; 
it sweeps the whole world with one encyclical cyclone of uniformity; 
it would destroy nations and empires for a word, so wedded 
is it to its fixed idea that its own word is the Word of God. 

When it is thus sweeping the world, it comes to a remote and rather 
barbarous region somewhere on the borders of Russia; where it 
stops suddenly; smiles broadly; and tells the people there that they 
can have the strangest heresies they like. Strange heresies, 
by the standard of strangeness likely to exist in an experience 
so long as that of the Roman Church, may well be very strange indeed. 

The Church is no stranger to heresies that involved human sacrifice, 
or the worship of demons, or the practice of perversions. 

We might well suppose, therefore, that the Church says benevolently 
to these fortunate Slavs, "By all means worship Baphomet and Beelzebub; 
say the Lord's Prayer backwards; continue to drink the blood 
of infants — nay, even," and here her voice falters, till she 
rallies with an effort of generous resolution, " — yes, even, if you 
really must, grow a beard." And then, I suppose, we must call 
up yet darker and more dreadful visions, of the heretic hiding 
himself in secret places, in caverns of witchcraft or sealed 
gardens of black magic, while the blasphemous beard is grown. 

Nobody explains why these particular Eastern Europeans should 
be regarded with so much favour, or why a number of long 
hairs on the chin should be regarded with so much disfavour. 

It is presumably a problem on which this intolerant spiritual 
tyranny will suffer no question to be asked. 

Does the reader realise the despair that falls upon the hapless Catholic 
journalist at such moments; or how wild a prayer he may well send up 
for the intercession of St. Francis of Sales? What is he to say; 
or at what end of that sentence is he to begin? What is the good of 
his laboriously beginning to explain that a married clergy is a matter 
of discipline and not doctrine, that it can therefore be allowed 
locally without heresy — when all the time the man thinks a beard 
as important as a wife and more important than a false religion? 

What is the sense of explaining to him the peculiar historical 

circumstances that have led to preserving some local habits 

in Kiev or Warsaw, when the man at any moment may receive a mortal 

shock by seeing a bearded Franciscan walking through Wimbledon or 

Walham Green? What we want to get at is the mind of the man who can think 

so absurdly about us as to suppose we could have a horror of heresy, 

and then a weakness for heresy, and then a greater horror of hair. 

To what does he attribute all the inconsistent nonsense and inconsequent 
bathos that he associates with us? Does he think we are all joking; 
or all dreaming; or all out of our minds; or what does he think? 

Until we have got at that, we have really got very little further. 



The notion that he merely thinks the Church is all nonsense is not very 
consistent with the way in which he talks about her in other aspects; 
as when he says she has always resisted such and such changes, 
which he perhaps approves; or that she can be counted on as an 
influence for such and such principles, which he perhaps dislikes; 
or that she is forbidden to accept this doctrine or committed to 
defending that. But what he can possibly suppose to be the principle 
upon which she accepts or rejects doctrines I never can imagine. 

And the more we really come in contact with the puzzle, the more we 
shall feel, I think, something quite unique and even creepy about it. 

It is like the old fable of the five blind men who tried to explore 
an elephant; a fable that used to be told as a sort of farce; 
but which I can well imagine being told by Maeterlinck or some 
modern mystic so as to make the flesh creep with mysteries. 

The thing is at once so obvious and so invisible; so public and 
so impalpable; so universal and so secret. They say so much about it; 
and they say so little. They see so much of it; and they see so little. 
There is a sort of colossal contradiction, such as can only be 
conceived between different dimensions or different planes of thought, 
in the coexistence of such familiar fact and such utterly unknown truth. 
Indeed, there is only one combination of words I know of, 
which ever did exactly express so huge a human and historical paradox; 
and they also are familiar and unfathomable: "The light shone 

in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not." 

Some part of the difficulty is doubtless due to the odd way in which so 
many people are at once preoccupied with it and prejudiced against it. 

It is queer to observe so much ignorance with so little indifference. 

They love talking about it and they hate hearing about it. It would 
seem that they especially hate asking about it. If, for instance, 
a man contributing to TRUTH, in the middle of educated London, 
really were a little puzzled by Rome making an exception of the Uniats, 
and were perhaps especially puzzled by an exception to the celibacy 
of the clergy (I omit his dark and inscrutable broodings on the 
subject of Beavers) might it not have occurred to him to go and ask 
some Catholic priest, or for that matter, some Catholic layman, 
and thus gain some sort of rough idea of the relative importance 
attached in our system to celibacy and heresy and hair on the face? 

Could he not have gained a glimpse of the usual order or hierarchy 
of these ideas, which would have prevented him from writing 
the staggering word "and" or the stunning word "even"? 

But I am inclined to suspect that even this omission, negative as 
it may seem, has in it something deeper than mere negligence. 

I fancy that there is more than meets the eye in this curious 
controversial attitude; the desire to ask rhetorical questions 
and not to ask real questions; the wish to heckle and not to hear. 

It may well be connected with more mystical aspects of the whole question, 
on which I am certainly not going to speculate, since I they are 
admittedly the most subtle problems of the trained theologian; 
all those questions about the will to believe and the operations 
of grace; and the fact that something more than reason is needed 
to bring any of us into the most reasonable of all philosophies. 

But apart from these mysteries, I think there is another reason 
that is human and historical. The thing that causes Catholic 
philosophy to be neglected is the very thing that really makes 
it impossible to neglect. It is the fact that it was something 
left for dead; and now rather incredibly come to life. 

An ordinary man would not mind very much whether he knew the exact 
ritual with which Roman augurs examined the entrails of beasts or 



watched the movements of birds; because he is certain that the world 
will not go back to that Roman religion. The world was once almost 
as certain that it would not go back to this other Roman religion. 

A man would not be very much ashamed of having put the metals in 
the wrong order in the imaginary formula of an alchemist, described in 
a historical romance; because he is convinced that alchemists can 
only return in romance and can never return in history. There was 
a time when he felt quite as safe about abbots as about alchemists. 

That time has already passed. That mere confident contempt, as I 
have said, has already been succeeded by a rather restless curiosity. 

But mental habits overlap; and the dead momentum of the old disregard 
of facts goes along side by side with a new movement of anxiety 
about possibilities. They would not be so ignorant about it 
if they had not decided that it was dead. They would not be so 
irritated about it if they had not discovered that it was alive. 

For ignorance accumulates like knowledge; and these newly aroused 
critics are the inheritors of the accruing interest of four hundred 
years of an ignorance that became an indifference. At this moment 
they are no longer indifferent; but they are still ignorant. 

They have been awakened suddenly in the watches of the night, 
and what they see they can neither deny nor understand. 

For they see one that was dead walking; and the blaze of that 
living death blasts or obliterates all the older details of life; 
and all the fables they have believed and all the facts they have 
forgotten are alike swallowed up in the miracle they can neither 
believe nor forget. 

-/- 

THE MASK OF THE AGNOSTIC 

SIR ARTHUR KEITH, in his recent remarks on the soul, let the cat out 
of the bag. He let it out of that very prim and proper professional 
bag which is carried by the "medical man" whom he described 
as conscientiously compelled to assert that the life of the soul 
ceases with the breath of the body. Perhaps the figure which fits 
in so well with the bag is less fortunate in the case of the cat; 
a mystic animal, whose nine lives might rather be supposed 
to represent immortality, at least in the form of reincarnation. 

But anyhow, he let the cat out of the bag; in the sense of 
revealing a secret which such wise men would be wiser to keep. 

It is the secret that such scientists do not speak as scientists, 
but simply as materialists. That is, they do not give their conclusions, 
but simply their opinions; and a very shaky sort of opinions some 
of them are. 

Not long ago, in his famous address on Anthropoids to the Congress 
at Leeds, Sir Arthur Keith said that he spoke simply as the foreman 
of a jury. It is true that he had not apparently consulted the jury; 
and it was rapidly made clear that the jury violently disagreed; 
which is unusual in a jury after the foreman has delivered 
the verdict. Still, in using this image he meant to claim 
complete impartiality of a judicial sort. He meant that a juryman 
is bound by oath to go entirely by the facts and the evidence, 
without fear or favour. And this effect would be a hundred times 
more effective if we were left free to imagine that the juryman's 
personal sympathies might be on the other side; or at least, 
if we did not know that they were very keenly on the one side. 

Sir Arthur should have been careful to preserve the impression that, 
speaking strictly and solely as an anthropologist, he was forced 



to accept the natural selection of anthropoids. He should then 
have left it to be inferred that, merely as a private person, 
he might be yearning for seraphic visions and celestial hopes; 
he might be searching the Scriptures or awaiting the Apocalypse. 

For all it was any business of ours, or any business of anybody's, 
he might be in private life a Mormon multiplying the stars in his 
heavenly crown or a Holy Roller continually convulsed by the Holy Ghost. 
The point was that the facts forced the Darwinian conclusion upon him. 
And a man of that sort, being forced to accept them, would be a real 
witness because a reluctant witness. In the trial of Darwin the man 
might feel for the plaintiff, but the juryman would be forced 
to find for the defendant. 

And now Sir Arthur Keith has thrown the whole of that imperial 
impartiality away. He has gone out of his way to dogmatise and lay 
down the law about the soul; which has nothing to do with his subject, 
except in so far as it is everybody's subject. But while it does not 
relate to what is his subject, it has told everybody which is his side. 
It has turned the foreman of the jury into a very unmistakable 
advocate for that side. Indeed, such a partisan is more like a 
party to the suit than an advocate; since it is the whole point 
that as a private person he has long had the private prejudice. 
Henceforth it is obvious that Keith deciding for Darwin is simply 
like Bradlaugh deciding for Darwin, or Ingersoll deciding for Darwin, 
or any atheist on a stool in Hyde Park deciding for Darwin. 

When THEY choose the side of natural selection, we can all agree 
that it is a very natural selection. 

As to the conclusion itself, it seems almost incredibly inconclusive. 
Unless Sir Arthur Keith is very badly misreported, he specially 
stated that spiritual existence ceases with the physical functions; 
and that no medical man could conscientiously say anything else. 

However grave be the injury called death (which indeed is often fatal), 

this strikes me as a case in which it is quite unnecessary to call 

in a medical man at all. There is always a certain irony, 

even in the simple pages of my favourite detective stories, 

in the fact that everybody rushes for a doctor as soon as they are quite 

certain that a man is dead. But in the detective story there may at 

least be something to be learnt by the doctor from the dead body. 

In the doctrinal speculation there is nothing whatever; and it does 
but confuse the eternal detective story for the doctor of medicine 
to pretend to be a doctor of divinity. The truth is that all this 
business about "a medical man" is mere bluff and mystagogy. 

The medical man "sees" that the mind has ceased with the body. 

What the medical man sees is that the body can no longer kick, 
talk, sneeze, whistle or dance a jig. And a man does not need 
to be very medical in order to see that. But whether the principle 
of energy, that once made it kick, talk, sneeze, whistle and dance, 
does or does not still exist on some other plane of existence — 
a medical man knows no more about that than any other man. 

And when medical men were clear-headed, some of them (like an ex-surgeon 
named Thomas Henry Huxley) said they did not believe that medical men or 
any men could know anything about it. That is an intelligible position; 
but it does not seem to be Sir Arthur Keith's position. He has been 
put up publicly to DENY that the soul survives the body; and to make 
the extraordinary remark that any medical man must say the same. 

It is as if we were to say that any competent builder or surveyor 
must deny the possibility of the Fourth Dimension; because he has 
learnt the technical secret that a building is measured by length, 
breadth and height. The obvious query is — Why bring in a surveyor? 



Everybody knows that everything is in fact measured by three dimensions. 
Anybody who thinks there is a fourth dimension thinks so in spite 
of being well aware that things are generally measured by three. 

Or it is as if a man were to answer a Berkeleian metaphysician, 
who holds all matter to be an illusion of mind, by saying, 

"I can call the evidence of an intelligent navvy who actually 
has to deal with solid concrete and cast iron; and he will tell 
you they are quite real." We should naturally answer that we 
do not need a navvy to tell us that solid things are solid; 
and it is quite in another sense that the philosopher says they 
are not solid. Similarly, there is nothing to make a medical man 
a materialist, except what might make any man a materialist. 

And it is when a man has absorbed all that obvious materialism 
that he begins to use his mind. And, as some hold, does not stop. 

This very unphilosophical irruption into philosophy was, however, 
in one way enlightening. It threw a light backwards on the speaker's 
previous proclamation on things on which he has more right to speak. 

Even in those things he betrayed a curious simplicity common among 
such official scientists. The truth is that they become steadily 
less scientific and more official. They develop that thin disguise 
that is the daily wear of politicians. They perform before us 
the most artful tricks with the most artless transparency. 

It is like watching a child trying to hide something. They are 
perpetually trying to bluff us with big words and learned allusions; 
on the assumption that we have never learnt anything — even of their 
own funny little ways. Every leader-writer who thunders "Galileo" 
at us assumes that we know even less about Galileo than he does. 

Every preacher of popular science who throws a long word at us 
thinks we shall have to look it up in the dictionary and hopes 
we shall not study it seriously even in the encyclopaedia. 

Their use of science is rather like the use made of it by the heroes 
of certain adventure stories, in which the white men terrify 
the savages by predicting an eclipse or producing an electric shock. 
These are in a sense true demonstrations of science. 

They are in a sense right in saying that they are scientists. 

Where they are perhaps wrong is in supposing that we are savages. 

But it is rather amusing for us who watch the preparations for giving 
us an electric shock, when we are seriously expected to be shocked 
by the shock. It is rather a joke when we, the benighted savages, 
are ourselves not only quite capable of predicting the eclipse, 
but capable of predicting the prediction. Now, among these facts 
that have been familiar to us for a long time is the fact that men 
of science stage and prepare their effects exactly as politicians do. 
They also do it rather badly — exactly as politicians do. 

Neither of these two modern mystagogues has yet realised how transparent 
his tricks have become. One of the most familiar and transparent 
of them is what is known as the "official contradiction." 

It is a strange symbolic way of declaring that something has 
happened by denying that it has happened. So whitewashing reports 
are published after political scandals as regularly as bluebooks . 

So the Right Honourable Gentleman hopes it is not necessary for him 
to contradict what he feels sure the Honourable Member could 
not have intended to insinuate. So a Cabinet Minister is put up 
to deny from a platform that there is any change in the Government's 
policy about Damascus. And so Sir Arthur Keith is put up to deny 
that there is any change in the scientific attitude about Darwin. 


And when we hear that, we all give a sort of sigh of satisfaction; 



for we all know exactly what that means. It means more or less 
the opposite of what it says. It means that there has been a devil 
of a row about Damascus inside the Party, or, in other words, 
that there is beginning to be a devil of a scandal about discredited 
Darwinians inside the scientific world. The curious thing 
is that in the latter case the officials are not only solemn 
in uttering the official contradiction, but much more simple 
in supposing that nobody will realize that it is official. 

In the case of the similar legal fiction in politics, the politicians 
by this time not only know the truth, but often know that we know 
the truth. Everybody knows by this time, by the gossip that is 
repeated everywhere, exactly what is meant by the absolute agreement 
on everything which binds the Prime Minister and all his colleagues. 

The Prime Minister does not really expect us to believe that he is 
the holy and beloved king of a brotherhood of knights sworn to a 
faith and giving their hearts to him alone. But Sir Arthur Keith 
does really expect us to believe that he is the foreman of a jury 
containing all the different men of science, all absolutely agreed 
that Darwin's particular opinion was "eternal." That is what I mean 
by childish concealment; and the artless or transparent trick. 

That is why I say that they do not even know how much we know. 

For the politician is less pompously absurd than the anthropologist, 
even if we test it by what they both call Progress; which is 
mostly only another word for Time. We all know the official 
optimism which always defends the present government. 

But this is like an official defence of all the past governments. 

If a man were to say that the politics of Palmerston were eternal, 
we should think him a little out of date. Yet Darwin was prominent 
at about the same date as Palmerston; and is quite equally dated. 

If Mr. Lloyd George were to get up and say that the great Liberal Party 
had not receded from one single position taken up by Gobden and Bright, 
the only true Tribunes of the People, we should reluctantly conclude 
(if such a thing be conceivable) that he was talking party 
claptrap to people ignorant of the history of the party. 

If a social reformer were to affirm solemnly that all social philosophy 
was still proceeding strictly on the principles of Herbert Spencer, 
we should know it was doing nothing of the sort, and that only 
an absolutely fossilized official could pretend that it was. 

Yet Darwin and Spencer were not only contemporaries but comrades 
and allies; and the Darwinian biology and the Spencerian 
sociology were regarded as parts of the same movement, 
which our grandfathers regarded as a very modern movement. 

Even considered a priori as a matter of probability it therefore 
seems rather unlikely that the science of that generation was any 
more infallible than its ethics and politics. Even on the principles 
Sir Arthur professes, it seems very queer that there should now 
be no more to be said about Darwinism than he said about it. 

But we do not need to appeal to those principles or those probabilities. 
We can appeal to the facts. As it happens, we do know something 
about the facts; and Sir Arthur Keith does not seem to know 
that we know. 

It was in a Catholic paper that certain statements were made about 
Darwinism today; statements which Sir Arthur Keith himself went 
out of his way to contradict; and about which Sir Arthur Keith 
himself was proved sensationally and disastrously wrong. 

Probably the story is now known to all readers of that paper; but it 
will possibly never come to the knowledge of most other journalists, 
and it certainly will not be recorded in most of the other papers. 



Touching this cosmic controversy, most of the other papers are 
emphatically party papers; and they support the party leader when 
he publishes the official contradiction. They will not let the public 
know how triumphantly his other contradiction was contradicted. 

When Mr. Belloc stated that these Darwinians were out of date and ignorant 
of recent biology, he quoted among a great many other recent authorities 
the French biologist Vialleton as denying the possibility of natural 
selection in a particular case connected with reptiles and birds. 

Sir Arthur Keith, coming to the rescue of Mr. H. G. Wells, and eager 
to prove that he and Mr. Wells were not out of date or ignorant 
of recent biology, proceeded to contradict Mr. Belloc flatly. 

He said that there was no such statement in Vialleton 's book; 
in other words, he accused Mr. Belloc of having misquoted or 
misrepresented Vialleton 's book. It then appeared, to the amazement 
of everybody, and especially of Mr. Belloc, that Sir Arthur Keith did 
not even know of the existence of the book. He was referring only 
to an early and elementary work by the same author published long ago. 

That was the last he had ever read of Vialleton. The important book, 

of which even I, a mere unscientific man in the street, 

had heard at least something, had never come to his ears at all. 

In short, the general charge, that Darwinians are out of date 
in their information, was proved about as completely as anything 
controversial can ever be proved in this world. 

Now, when a thing like that has happened, above all when it 
has happened to us, in the pages of a paper in which I write, 
in the experience of one of my own friends, how can it be expected 
that people in our position should take seriously the speech 
at the opening of the British Association at Leeds? How can we 
keep a straight face when the President strikes an attitude as if 
pointing to the stars and declaring Darwinism equally eternal? 

That sort of thing is not meant for us; but for the reporters; 
just as the true story of Wells and Belloc is generally kept out 
of the reports. 

-/- 

THE EARLY BIRD IN HISTORY 

ST. JOAN OF ARC, a star and a thunderbolt, strange as a meteoric 
stone whose very solidity is not of this earth, may be compared 
also to a diamond among pebbles; the one white stone of history. 

Like a diamond, she is clear but not simple, as some count simplicity; 
but having many facets or aspects. There is one aspect of the 
discussion on St. Joan which I have never seen specially noted, 
and it seems to be worth a note. It concerns that common and current 
charge against the Catholic Church that she is, as the phrase goes, 
always behind the times. 

When I became a Catholic, I was quite prepared to find that in many 
respects she really was behind the times. I was very tolerant 
of the idea of being behind the times, having had long opportunities 
of studying the perfectly ghastly people who were abreast of the times; 
or the still more pestilent people who were in advance of the times. 

I was prepared to find Catholicism rather Conservative, and in that 
sense slow; and so, of course, in some aspects it is. I knew that 
being in the movement generally meant only being in the fashion. 

I knew that fashions had an extraordinary way of being first 
omnipresent and oppressive and then suddenly blank and forgotten. 



I knew how publicity seems fixed like a spotlight and vanishes 
like a lightning-flash. I had seen the whole public imagination 
filled with a succession of Krugers and Kaisers, who were to be 
hanged next week and about whom nobody cared a hang next month. 

I have lived through an overwhelming illusion that there was nobody 
in the world except General Gordon or Captain Dreyfus or the elephant 
Jumbo at the Zoo. If there is something in the world that takes 
no notice of these world-changes, I confess to finding a certain 
comfort in its indifference. I think it was just as well, from every 
point of view, that the ecclesiastical authorities delayed a decision 
about Darwinism or even Evolution; and declined altogether to be 
excited in that universal excitement . There were many, even among 
the sympathetic, who seemed to think that Catholics ought to put up 
an altar to the Missing Link, as Pagans did to the Unknown God. 

But Catholics prefer to wait until they know what they are doing; 
and would prefer to learn a little more about a thing besides 
the fact that nobody can find it. And of course it is true that 
in some matters, judged by the feverish pace of recent fashion, 
the Church has always been slow as well as sure. But there is 
another side of the truth, and one which is more commonly missed. 

As it happens, both sides are strikingly illustrated in the story 
of the status of St. Joan. 

If we go back to the very beginning of a story, we very often find 
that the Church did actually do something which her foes ignored 
and even her friends forgot. Then other social tendencies set in, 
other questions occupied the world, the tides of time and change 
passed over the whole business; and when that business came again 
to the surface, the world had the impression that the Church was 
dealing with it after a very long delay. But the world itself 
had never dealt with it at all. The world, as a matter of fact, 
had never woken up to the fact at all, until it woke up with a start 
and began to abuse the Church for not having woken up before. 

During all those long intervening ages, the world had really 
been much more asleep than the Church. The Church, a very long 
time ago, had done something; and the world had done nothing. 

The case of St. Joan of Arc is one curious example. 

The Canonisation of St. Joan came very slowly and very late. 

But the Rehabilitation of St. Joan came very promptly and very early. 

It is a very exceptional example of rapid reparation for a judicial 
crime or a miscarriage of justice. There have been any number of these 
judicial crimes in history. There have been any number of heroes 
and martyrs whom history regards as having suffered for their virtues. 

It has almost passed into a popular proverb, especially in 
modern times; as in the words of the American popular poet: 

"Right for ever on the scaffold, wrong for ever on the throne." 

But I can hardly remember another example of the throne paying so prompt 
a salute to the scaffold. The condemnation of St. Joan was reversed 
by the Pope in the lifetime of her contemporaries, at the appeal 
of her brothers; about as soon as anybody could have expected anything 
of the sort to be reversed. I do not know if the Athenian Republic 
did as much for Socrates or the Florentine for Savonarola; 
but I am pretty certain that nobody could have got the Carthaginians 
to apologise thus to Regulus or the Antiochi to Maccabaeus . 

The only really fair way of considering the fashionable subject 
of the crimes of Christendom would be to compare them with the crimes 
of heathenism; and the normal human practice of the Pagan world. 

And while it may be a weakness of human beings, of every age 
and creed, to stone the prophets and then build their sepulchres. 



it is really very seldom that the sepulchre is built even as 
quickly as that. When those who build the sepulchre are really 
and truly the representatives or inheritors of those who threw 
the stones, it does not generally happen for hundreds of years. 

To take the parallel passions of the secular side of the Middle Ages, 
we should be considerably surprised to learn that when the head 
of William Wallace had been stuck on a spike by Edward the First, 
his remains had been respectfully interred and his character 
cleared by Edward the Third. We should be considerably surprised 
if the courts of Queen Elizabeth had gone out of their way to 
repudiate and quash the case against Thomas More. It is generally 
long afterwards, when the actual ambitions and rivalries are dead, 
when the feuds and family interests have long been forgotten, 
that a rather sentimental though sincere tenderness is shown 
to the dead enemy. In the nineteenth century the English 
do make a romance about Wallace and a statue of Washington. 

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the English do produce 
a fine enthusiasm and a number of excellent books about St. Joan. 

And I for one hope to see the day when this measure of magnanimity 
shall be filled up where it has been most wanting; and some such 
payment made for the deepest debt of all. I should like to see 
the day when the English put up a statue of Emmett beside the statue 
of Washington; and I wish that in the Centenary of Emancipation 
there were likely to be as much fuss in London about the figure 
of Daniel O'Connell as there was about that of Abraham Lincoln. 

But I mean the comment here in a rather larger sense; and in a larger 
sense it is an even stronger case. I mean that if we take the tale 
of St. Joan as a test, the really remarkable thing is not so much 
the slowness of the Church to appreciate her, as the slowness of 
everybody else. The world, especially the wisest men of the world, 
were extraordinarily late in realising what a remarkable thing 
had happened; very much later than the rather rigid religious officials 
of the fifteenth century. That rigidity of fifteenth century religion 
was very soon broken up, partly by good and partly by bad forces. 
Comparatively soon after St. Joan's ashes were thrown into the Seine, 
quite soon after the Rehabilitation, the Renaissance had really begun. 
Very soon after that the Reformation had begun. The Renaissance 
produced a number of large and liberal views on all sorts of things. 

The Reformation produced numberless narrow views, divided among 
all sorts of sects. But at least there were plenty of differences 
and varied points of view, many of them now loosened from anything 
that may have been restrictive in the medieval discipline. 

Human reason and imagination, left to themselves, might at 
least have made as much of Jeanne d'Arc as of John Huss. 

As a fact, human reason and imagination, left to themselves, 
made extraordinarily little of her. Humanism and Humanitarianism and, 
in a general sense. Humanity, did not really rehabilitate Joan 
until about five hundred years after the Church had done so. 

The history of what great men have said about this great woman is 
a very dismal tale. The greatest man of all, Shakespeare, has an 
unfortunate pre-eminence by his insular insults in HENRY THE SIXTH. 

But the thing went on long after Shakespeare; and was far worse in people 
who had far less excuse than Shakespeare. Voltaire was a Frenchman; 
he was a great Frenchman; he professed an admiration for many 
French heroes; he certainly professed to be a reformer and a friend 
of freedom; he most certainly might have seized on any mediaeval 
miscarriage of justice that might be turned to anti-clerical account. 

What Voltaire wrote about St. Joan it will be most decent 



to pass over in silence. But it is the same all along the line; 
it is the same far later in rationalistic history than Voltaire. 

Byron had with all his faults a sensibility to the splendid and heroic, 
especially in the matter of nations struggling to be free. 

He was far less insular than any other English poet; he had far 
more comprehension of France and of the Continent; and he is 
still comprehended and admired there. He called St. Joan of Arc 
a fanatical strumpet. That was the general tone of human culture, 
of history as taught and talked in the age of reason. 

Mr. Belloc has noted that, so strong was this secular social pressure, 
that even a Catholic, when he wished to be moderate, like Lingard, 
was more or less sceptical, not indeed of the morality, but certainly 
of the miraculous mission of St. Joan. It is true that Schiller 
was sympathetic, though sentimental — and therefore out of touch. 

But it was not till nearly the end of the nineteenth century, 
not fully until the beginning of the twentieth century, 
that ordinary men of genius awoke to the recognition of one of 
the most wonderful women of genius in the history of the world. 

One of the first really popular attempts at a rationalist 
rehabilitation came, of all people in the world, from Mark Twain. 

His notion of the Middle Ages was as provincial as the Yankee at the Court 
of King Arthur; but it is to the credit of this rather crude genius, 
of the late culture of a new country, that he did catch the flame from 
the pyre of Rouen, which so many cultivated sceptics had found cold. 

Then came a patronising pamphlet by Anatole France; which I for one 
think rather more insulting than the ribald verse of Voltaire. 

Then came the last great attempt; wrong in many ways in its contention, 
but conspicuously spirited and sincere — the play of St. Joan. 

On the whole, nobody can say that humanists and rationalists have 
been very early in the field. This heroine had to wait about five 
centuries for Bernard Shaw. 

Now, in that comparison, nobody can say that the Church 
comes off very badly in comparison with the world. 

The truth is that the ecclesiastical apology to the martyr came 
so early that everybody had forgotten all about it, long before 
the rest of the world began to consider the question at all. 

And though I have taken here the particular case of St. Joan 
of Arc, I believe that something of the same sort could be traced 
through a great many other affairs in human history. 

It is true of those who gave the Jesuits a bad name and hanged them; 

and the hanging was not always metaphorical. The simplified version 

of it is to say that the Jesuits, especially in their capacity 

of Casuists, suffered almost entirely from being two hundred 

years before their time. They tried to start in a cautious way 

what is now surging up on every side of us in a chaotic way; 

all that is implied in talking about problem novels and problem plays. 

In other words, they recognised that there really are problems 
in moral conduct; not problems about whether the moral law should 
be obeyed, but problems about how in a particular case the moral 
law really applies. But they were not remembered as pioneers 
who had begun to ask the questions of Ibsen and Hardy and Shaw. 

They were remembered only as wicked conspirators who had not always 
believed in the Divine Right of Kings. They pioneered early 
enough to be execrated by an earlier generation; but too early 
to be thanked by a later generation. Protestants have eagerly 
supported Pascal against them, without taking the trouble to discover 
that any number of the things that Pascal denounced are things 
that any modern man would defend. For instance, Pascal blamed 



the infamous Jesuits for saying that a girl might in some conditions 
marry against the wish of her parents. The Jesuits would have 
had all modern novels, let alone problem novels, on their side. 

But they were too early in the field to have anybody on their side. 
Moreover, they wished to fit these exceptions into the moral rule; 
the Moderns who did it two centuries later have produced no rule, 
but a welter of exceptions. 

Here, again, is yet another example that occurs to me at the moment. 

Many have given long histories of the laborious slowness with which 
the idea of justice to the aborigines, to Red Indians or such races, 
has advanced step by step with the progress of modern humanitarian ideas 
In such a history Penn, the great Quaker, appears like a primeval 
founder and father of the republic; and he was undoubtedly very early 
in the field — in the Puritan field. But Las Casas, the Apostle 
of the Indians, actually sailed in a ship with Christopher Columbus. 

It would be difficult to be earlier in the American field than that. 

He spent his life pleading for the rights of the savages; but he did 
it at a time when nobody in the north would listen to such a story 
about a saint of Spain. In this and in many other examples, I believe 
that the real history of the Catholic pioneer has been the same; 
to be first and to be forgotten. 

-/- 

PROTESTANTISM: A PROBLEM NOVEL 

I HAVE been looking at the little book on Protestantism which 
Dean Inge has contributed to the sixpenny series of Sir Ernest Benn; 
and though I suppose it has already been adequately criticised, it may 
be well to jot down a few notes on it before it is entirely forgotten. 
The book, which is called "Protestantism, " obviously ought to be 
called "Catholicism. " What the Dean has to say about any real 
thing recognisable as Protestantism is extraordinarily patchy, 
contradictory and inconclusive. It is only what he has to say about 
Catholicism that is clear, consistent and to the point. It is warmed 
and quickened by the human and hearty motive of hatred; and it makes 
everything else in the book look timid and tortuous by comparison. 

I am not going to annotate the work considered as history. 

There are some curious, if not conscious, falsifications of fact, 
especially in the form of suppressions of fact. He begins by 
interpreting Protestantism as a mere "inwardness and sincerity" 
in religion; which none of the Protestant reformers would have admitted 
to be Protestantism, and which any number of Catholic reformers have 
made the very heart and soul of their reforms inside Catholicism. 

It might be suggested that self-examination is now more often 
urged and practised among Catholics than among Protestants. 

But whether or no the champions of sincerity examine themselves, 
they might well examine their statements. Some of the statements 
here might especially be the subject of second thoughts. 

It is really a startling suppression and falsification to say that 
Henry the Eighth had only a few household troops; so that his people 
must have favoured his policy, or they would have risen against it. 

It seems enough to reply that they did rise against it. 

And BECAUSE Henry had only a few household troops, he brought in bands 
of ferocious mercenaries from abroad to put down the religious 
revolt of his own people. It is an effort of charity to concede 
even complete candour to the story-teller, who can actually use 
such an argument, and then keep silent upon such a sequel. 

Or again, it is outrageously misleading to suggest that the Catholic 



victims of Tudor and other tyranny were justly executed as traitors 
and not as martyrs to a religion. Every persecutor alleges social and 
secular necessity; so did Caiaphas and Annas; so did Nero and Diocletian 
from the first the Christians were suppressed as enemies of the Empire; 
to the last the heretics were handed over to the secular arm 
with secular justifications. But when, in point of plain fact, 
a man can be hanged, drawn and quartered merely for saying Mass, 
or sometimes for helping somebody who has said Mass, it is simply 
raving nonsense to say that a religion is not being persecuted. 

To mention only one of many minor falsifications of this kind, 
it is quite true to say that Milton was in many ways more of a Humanist 
than a Puritan; but it is quite false to suggest that the Milton family 
was a typical Puritan family, in its taste for music and letters. 

The very simple explanation is that the Milton family was largely 
a Catholic family; and it was the celebrated John who specially 
separated himself from its creed but retained its culture. 

Countless other details as definitely false could be quoted; 
but I am much more interested in the general scope of the work — 
which allows itself to be so curiously pointless about Protestantism, 
merely in order to make a point against Catholicism. 

Here is the Dean's attempt at a definition. "What is the main function 
of Protestantism? It is essentially an attempt to check the tendency to 
corruption and degradation which attacks every institutional religion." 
So far, so good. In that case St. Charles Borromeo, for instance, 
was obviously a leading Protestant. St. Dominic and St. Francis, 
who purged the congested conventionalism of much of the monasticism 
around them, were obviously leading Protestants. The Jesuits who sifted 
legend by the learning of Bollandism, were obviously leading Protestants 
But most living Protestant leaders are not leading Protestants. 

If degradation drags down EVERY institutional religion, it has 
presumably dragged down Protestant institutional religion. 

Protestants might possibly appear to purge Protestantism; but so did 
Catholics appear to purge Catholicism. Plainly this definition is 
perfectly useless as a DISTINCTION between Protestantism and Catholicism 
For it is not a description of any belief or system or body of thought; 
but simply of a good intention, which all men of all Churches would 
profess and a few men in some Churches practise — especially in ours. 

But the Dean not only proves that modern Protestant institutions ought t 
be corrupt, he says that their primitive founders ought to be repudiated 
He distinctly holds that we cannot follow Luther and Calvin. 

Very well — let us go on and see whom we are to follow. 

I will take one typical passage towards the end of the book. 

The Dean first remarks, "The Roman Church has declared that there can 
be no reconciliation between Rome and modern Liberalism or Progress." 

One would like to see the encyclical or decree in which this 
declaration was made. Liberalism might mean many things, 
from the special thing which Newman denounced and defined 
to the intention of voting at a by-election for Sir John Simon. 

Progress generally means something which the Pope has never, 
so far as I know, found it necessary to deny; but which the Dean 
himself has repeatedly and most furiously denied. He then goes on: 
"Protestantism is entirely free from this uncompromising preference 
for the Dark Ages." "The Dark Ages," of course, is cant and claptrap; 
we need take no notice of that. But we may perhaps notice, 
not without interest and amusement, that about twenty-five 
lines before, the Dean himself has described the popular Protestantism 
of America as if it were a barbarism and belated obscurantism. 

From which one may infer that the Dark Ages are still going on. 



exactly where there is Protestantism to preserve them. 

And considering that he says at least five times that the appeal 
of Protestants to the letter of Scripture is narrow and superstitious, 
it surely seems a little astonishing that he should sum up 
by declaring Protestantism, as such, to be "ENTIRELY free" 
from this sort of darkness. Then, on top of all this welter of 
wordy contradictions, we have this marvellous and mysterious conclusion: 
"It is in this direction that Protestants may look for the beginning 
of what may really be a new Reformation, a resumption of the unfinished 
work of Sir Thomas More, Giordano Bruno and Erasmus." 

In short, Protestants may look forward to a Reformation modelled on 

the work of two Catholics and one obscure mystic, who was not a Protestant 

and of whose tenets they and the world know practically nothing. 

One hardly knows where to begin, in criticising this very new Reformation, 
two-thirds of which was apparently started by men of the Old Religion. 

We might meekly suggest that, if it be regrettable that the work 
of Sir Thomas More was "unfinished, " some portion of the blame 
may perhaps attach to the movement that cut off his head. 

Is it possible, I wonder, that what the Dean really means is that we 
want a new Reformation to undo all the harm that was done by the 
old Reformation? In this we certainly have no reason to quarrel 
with him. We should be delighted also to have a new Reformation, 
of ourselves as well as of Protestants and other people; though it 
is only fair to say that Catholics did, within an incredibly short 
space of time, contrive to make something very like a new Reformation; 
which is commonly called the Counter-Reformation. St. Vincent de 
Paul and St. Francis of Sales have at least as good a right to call 
themselves inheritors of the courtesy and charity of More as has 
the present Dean of St. Paul's. But putting that seventeenth century 
reform on one side, there is surely something rather stupendous 
about the reform that the Dean proposes for the twentieth century, 
and the patron saints he selects for it out of the sixteenth century. 

For this, it seems, is how we stand. We are not to follow 
Luther and Calvin. But we are to follow More and Erasmus. 

And that, if you please, is the true Protestantism and the promise 
of a second Reformation. We are to copy the views and virtues 
of the men who found they could remain under the Pope, and especially 
of one who actually died for the supremacy of the Pope. 

We are to throw away practically every rag of thought or theory that was 
held by the people who did not remain under the supremacy of the Pope. 

And we are to bind up all these views in a little popular pamphlet 
with an orange cover and call them "Protestantism." The truth 
is that Dean Inge had an impossible title and an impossible task. 

He had to present Protestantism as Progress; when he is far too 
acute and cultivated a man not to suspect that it was (as it was) 
a relapse into barbarism and a break away from all that was 
central in civilisation. Even by the test of the Humanist, 
it made religion inhuman. Even by the test of the liberal, 
it substituted literalism for liberalism. Even if the goal 
had been mere Modernism, it led its followers to it by a long, 
dreary and straggling detour, a wandering in the wilderness, that did 
not even discover Modernism till it had first discovered Mormonism. 

Even if the goal had been logical scepticism, Voltaire could 

reach it more rapidly from the school of the Jesuits than 

the poor Protestant provincial brought up among the Jezreelites. 

Every mental process, even the process of going wrong, is clearer in 
the Catholic atmosphere. Protestantism has done nothing for Dean Inge, 
except give him a Deanery which rather hampers his mental activity. 



It has done nothing for his real talent or scholarship or sense 
of ideas. It has not in history defended any of the ideas 
he defends, or helped any of the liberties in which he hopes. 

But it has done one thing: it has hurt something he hates. 

It has done some temporary or apparent harm to the heritage of St. Peter. 
It once made something that looked like a little crack in the wall 
of Rome. And because of THAT, the Dean can pardon anything 
to the Protestants — even Protestantism. 

For this is the strange passion of his life; and he toils through 
all these pages of doubts and distinctions only for the moment when 
he can liberate his soul in one wild roar of monomaniac absurdity: 

"Let the innocent Dreyfus die in prison; let the Irishman who has 

committed a treacherous murder be told to leave 'politics' 

out of his confession; let the lucrative imposture of Lourdes..." 

That is the way to talk! It is so tiring, pretending to talk sense. 

-/- 

A SIMPLE THOUGHT 

MOST men would return to the old ways in faith and morals if they 
could broaden their minds enough to do so. It is narrowness that 
chiefly keeps them in the rut of negation. But this enlargement 
is easily misunderstood, because the mind must be enlarged to see 
the simple things; or even to see the self-evident things. 

It needs a sort of stretch of imagination to see the obvious 
objects against the obvious background; and especially the big 
objects against the big background. There is always the sort 
of man who can see nothing but the spot on the carpet, so that 
he cannot even see the carpet. And that tends to irritation, 
which he may magnify into rebellion. Then there is the kind of man 
who can only see the carpet, perhaps because it is a new carpet. 

That is more human, but it may be tinged with vanity and even vulgarity. 

There is the man who can only see the carpeted room; 

and that will tend to cut him off too much from other things, 

especially the servants' quarters. Finally, there is the man 

enlarged by imagination, who cannot sit in the carpeted room, 

or even in the coal-cellar, without seeing all the time the outline 

of the whole house against its aboriginal background of earth and sky. 

He, understanding that the roof is raised from the beginning as a shield 
against sun or snow, and the door against frost or slime, will know 
better and not worse than the rest the reasons of the rules within. 

He will know better than the first man that there ought not to be 
a spot on the carpet. But he will know, unlike the first man, 
why there is a carpet. 

He will regard in the same fashion a speck or spot upon 

the records of his tradition or his creed. He will not explain 

it ingeniously; certainly he will not explain it away. 

On the contrary, he will see it very simply; but he will also see 
it very largely; and against the background of larger things. 

He will do what his critics never by any chance do; he will see 
the obvious thing and ask the obvious question. For the more I 
read of the modern criticisms of religion, especially of my 
own religion, the more I am struck by this narrow concentration 
and this imaginative incapacity to take in the problem as a whole. 

I have recently been reading a very moderate condemnation of current 
Catholic practices, coming from America, where the condemnation is often 
far from moderate. It takes the form, generally speaking, of a swarm 



of questions, all of which I should be quite willing to answer. 

Only I am vividly conscious of the big questions that are not asked, 
rather than of the little questions that are. 

And I feel above all, this simple and forgotten fact; that whether 
certain charges are or are not true of Catholics, they are quite 
unquestionably true of everybody else. It never occurs to the critic 
to do anything so simple as to compare what is Catholic with what is 
Non-Catholic. The one thing that never seems to cross his mind, 
when he argues about what the Church is like, is the simple question 
of what the world would be like without it. 

That is what I mean by being too narrow to see the house 
called the church against the background called the cosmos. 

For instance, the writer of whom I speak indulges in the millionth 
mechanical repetition of the charge of mechanical repetition. 

He says that we repeat prayers and other verbal forms without 
thinking about them. And doubtless there are many sympathisers 
who will repeat that denunciation after him, without thinking 
about it at all. But, before we come to explaining the Church's 
real teaching about such things, or quoting her numberless 
recommendations of attention and vigilance, or expounding the reason 
of the reasonable exceptions that she does allow, there is a wide, 
a simple and a luminous truth about the whole situation which anybody 
can see if he will walk about with his eyes open. It is the obvious 
fact that all human forms of speech tend to fossilise into formalism; 
and that the Church stands unique in history not as talking a dead 
language among everlasting languages; but, on the contrary, 
as having preserved a living language in a world of dying languages. 

When the great Greek cry breaks into the Latin of the Mass, 
as old as Christianity itself, it may surprise some to learn 
that there are a good many people in church who really do say 
KYRIE ELEISON and mean exactly what they say. But anyhow, 
they mean what they say rather more than a man who begins a letter 
with "Dear Sir" means what he says. "Dear" is emphatically 
a dead word; in that place it has ceased to have any meaning. 

It is exactly what the Protestants would allege of Popish rites 
and forms; it is done rapidly, ritually, and without any memory 
even of the meaning of the rite. When Mr. Jones the solicitor 
uses it to Mr. Brown the banker, he does not mean that the banker 
is dear to him, or that his heart is filled with Christian love, 
even so much as the heart of some poor ignorant Papist listening 
to the Mass. Now, life, ordinary, jolly, heathen, human life, 
is simply chockful of these dead words and meaningless ceremonies. 

You will not escape from them by escaping from the Church into the world. 
When the critic in question, or a thousand other critics like him, 
say that we are only required to make a material or mechanical 
attendance at Mass, he says something which is NOT true about 
the ordinary Catholic in his feelings about the Catholic Sacraments. 

But he says something which IS true about the ordinary 
official attending official functions, about the ordinary 
Court levee or Ministerial reception, and about three-quarters 
of the ordinary society calls and polite visits in the town. 

This deadening of repeated social action may be a harmless thing; 
it may be a melancholy thing; it may be a mark of the Fall of Man; 
it may be anything the critic chooses to think. But those who have 
made it, hundreds and hundreds of times, a special and concentrated 
charge against the Church, are men blind to the whole human world 
they live in and unable to see anything but the thing they traduce. 



There are, even in this record, any number of other cases of this 
queer and uncanny unconsciousness. The writer complains that 
priests are led blindfold into their calling and do not understand 
the duties involved in it. That also we seem to have heard before. 

But we have seldom heard it in so extraordinary a form 
as in his statement, that a man can be finally committed 
to the priesthood while he is still "a child." He would appear 
to have odd and elastic ideas about the duration of childhood. 

As Mr. Michael Williams has pointed out in his most thoughtful and 
illuminating collection of essays, "Catholicism and the Modern Mind, " 
this is playing about with a matter of plain fact; since a priest 
is twenty-four at the earliest when he takes his vows. But here 
again I myself am haunted by this huge and naked and yet neglected 
comparison between the Church and everything outside the Church. 

Most critics of Catholicism declare it to be destructive of patriotism; 
and this critic says something about the disadvantages of the Church 
being merely "attached to an Italian diocese." Well, I for one have 
always been a defender of the cult of patriotism; and nothing that I 
say here has any connection with what is commonly called pacifism. 

I think that our friends and brethren fell ten years ago in a just war 
against the hard heathenism of the north; I think the Prussianism 
they defeated was frozen with the pride of hell; and for these dead, 

I think it is well with them; and perhaps better than with us, 
who live to see how evil Peace can be. 

But really — when we come to talk about the Church involving 
young people in vows ! What are we to say to those who would pit 
patriotism or pagan citizenship against the Church on that issue? 

They conscript by violence boys of eighteen, they applaud volunteers 
of sixteen for saying they are eighteen, they throw them by thousands 
into a huge furnace and torture-chamber, of which their imaginations 
can have conceived nothing and from which their honour forbids 
them to escape; they keep them in those horrors year after year 
without any knowledge even of the possibility of victory; and kill 
them like flies by the million before they have begun to live. 

That is what the State does; that is what the World does; that is 
what their Protestant, practical, sensible, secular society does. 

And after that they have the astounding impudence to come and complain 
of us, because in dealing with a small minority of specialists, 
we allow a man finally to choose a charitable and peaceful life, 
not only long after he is twenty-one, but when he is well on 
towards thirty, and after he has had about ten years to think 
quietly whether he will do it or not! 

In short, what I miss in all these things is the obvious thing: 

the question of how the Church compares with the world outside the Church, 

or opposed to the Church, or offered as a substitute for the Church. 

And the fact obviously is that the world will do all that it has ever 
accused the Church of doing, and do it much worse, and do it on a much 
larger scale, and do it (which is worst and most important of all) 
without any standards for a return to sanity or any motives 
for a movement of repentance. Catholic abuses can be reformed, 
because there is the admission of a form. Catholic sins can 
be expiated, because there is a test and a principle of expiation. 

But where else in the world today is any such test or standard found; 
or anything except a changing mood, which makes patriotism the fashion 
ten years ago and pacifism the fashion ten years afterwards The 
danger is today that men will not sufficiently enlarge their 
minds to take in the obvious things; and this is one of them. 

It is that men charge the Roman tradition with being half-heathen 



and then take refuge from it in a complete heathenism. 

It is that men complain because Christians have been infected 
with paganism; and then flee from the plague-spotted to take refuge 
with the pestilence. There is no single one of these faults 
alleged against the Catholic institution, which is not far 
more flagrant and even flamboyant in every other institution. 

And it is to these other institutions, the State, the School, 
the modern machinery of taxation and police, to which these people 
actually look to save them from the superstition of their fathers. 

That is the contradiction; that is the crashing collision; 
that is the inevitable intellectual disaster in which they have already 
involved themselves; and we have only to wait as patiently as we can, 
to see how long it is before they realise what has happened. 


-/- 

THE CALL TO THE BARBARIANS 

A BOOK was sent me the other day by a gentleman who pins his faith 
to what he calls the Nordic race; and who, indeed, appears to offer 
that race as a substitute for all religions. Crusaders believed that 
Jerusalem was not only the Holy City, but the centre of the whole world. 
Moslems bow their heads towards Mecca and Roman Catholics are 
notorious for being in secret communication with Rome. I presume 
that the Holy Place of the Nordic religion must be the North Pole. 

What form of religious architecture is exhibited in its icebergs, 

how far its vestments are modified by the white covering of 

Arctic animals, how the morning and evening service may be adapted 

to a day and a night each lasting for six months, whether their 

only vestment is the alb or their only service the angelus of noon, 

upon all these mysteries I will not speculate. But I can affirm 

with some confidence that the North Pole is very little troubled 

by heretical movements or the spread of modern doubt. Anyhow, it would 

seem that we know next to nothing about this social principle, 

except that anything is good if it is near enough to the North. 

And this undoubtedly explains the spiritual leadership of the 
Eskimo throughout history; and the part played by Spitzbergen 
as the spiritual arena of modern times. The only thing that 
puzzles me is that the Englishmen who now call themselves Nordic 
used to call themselves Teutonic; and very often even Germanic. 

I cannot think why they altered this so abruptly in the autumn of 1914. 
Some day, I suppose, when we have diplomatic difficulties 
with Norway, they will equally abruptly drop the word Nordic. 

They will hastily substitute some other--I would suggest Borealic. 

They might be called the Bores, for short. 

But I only mention this book because of a passage in it which is 
rather typical of the tone of a good many other people when they 
are talking about Catholic history. The writer would substitute 
one race for all religions; in which he certainly differs from us, 
who are ready to offer one religion to all races. And even here, 
perhaps, the comparison is not altogether to his advantage. 

For anybody who likes can belong to the religion; whereas it is not 
very clear what is to be done with the people who do not happen 
to belong to the race. But even among religions he is ready to admit 
degrees of depravity; he will distinguish between these disgusting 
institutions; of course, according to their degree of latitude. 

It is rather unfortunate for him that many Eskimos are Catholics 
and that most French Protestants live in the south of France; 



but he proceeds on his general principle clearly enough. 

He points out, in his pleasant way, why it is exactly that 
Roman Catholicism is such a degrading superstition. And he adds 
(which is what interests me at the moment) that this was illustrated 
in the Dark Ages, which were a nightmare of misery and ignorance. 

He then admits handsomely that Protestantism is not quite so debased 
and devilish as Catholicism; and that men of the Protestant nations 
do exhibit rudimentary traces of the human form. But this, he says, 

"is not due to their Protestantism, but to their Nordic common sense." 
They are more educated, more liberal, more familiar with reason 
and beauty, because they are what used to be called Teutonic; 
descended from Vikings and Gothic chiefs rather than from the Tribunes 
of Florence or the Troubadours of Provence. And in this curious idea 
I caught a glimpse of something much wider and more interesting; 
which is another note of the modern ignorance of the Catholic tradition 
In speaking of things that people do not know, I have mostly 
spoken of things that are really within the ring or circle of our 
own knowledge; things inside the Catholic culture which they miss 
because they are outside it. But there are some cases in which 
they themselves are ignorant even of the things outside it. 

They themselves are ignorant, not only of the centre of civilisation 
which they slander, but even of the ends of the earth to which 
they appeal; they not only cannot find Rome on their map, but they 
do not even know where to look for the North Pole. 

Take, for instance, that remark about the Dark Ages and the Nordic 
common sense. It is tenable and tolerable enough to say 
that the Dark Ages were a nightmare. But it is nonsense to say 
that the Nordic element was anything remotely resembling sense. 

If the Dark Ages were a nightmare, it was very largely because 
the Nordic nonsense made them an exceedingly Nordic nightmare. 

It was the period of the barbarian invasions; when piracy 
was on the high seas and civilisation was in the monasteries. 

You may not like monasteries, or the sort of civilisation that 
is preserved by monasteries; but it is quite certain that it 
was the only sort of civilisation there was. But this is simply 
one of the things that the Nordic gentleman does not know. 

He imagines that the Danish pirate was talking about Tariff Reform 
and Imperial Preference, with scientific statistics from Australia 
and Alaska, when he was rudely interrupted by a monk named Bede, 
who had never heard of anything but monkish fables. He supposes 
that a Viking or a Visigoth was firmly founded on the principles 
of the Primrose League and the English Speaking Union, and that 
everything else would have been founded on them if fanatical priests 
had not rushed in and proclaimed the savage cult called Christianity. 

He thinks that Penda of Mercia, the last heathen king, was just about 
to give the whole world the benefits of the British Constitution, 
not to mention the steam engine and the works of Rudyard Kipling, 
when his work was blindly ruined by unlettered ruffians with such names 
as Augustine and Dunstan and Anselm. And that is the little error 
which invalidates our Nordic friend's importance as a serious historian 
that is why we cannot throw ourselves with utter confidence 
and surrender into the stream of his historical enthusiasm. 

The difficulty consists in the annoying detail that nothing 
like what he is thinking about ever happened in the world at all; 
that the religion of race that he proposes is exactly what he himself 
calls the Dark Ages. It is what some scientific persons call 
a purely subjective idea; or in other words, a nightmare. 

It is very doubtful if there ever was any Nordic race. 

It is quite certain that there never was any Nordic common sense. 



The very words "common sense" are a translation from the Latin. 

Now that one typical or even trivial case has a larger application. 

One very common form of Protestant or rationalist ignorance may 
be called the ignorance of what raw humanity is really like. 

Such men get into a small social circle, very modern and very narrow, 
whether it is called the Nordic race or the Rationalist Association. 

They have a number of ideas, some of them truisms, some of them very 
untrue, about liberty, about humanity, about the spread of knowledge. 

The point is that those ideas, whether true or untrue, are the very 
reverse of universal. They are not the sort of ideas that any large 
mass of mankind, in any age or country, may be assumed to have. 

They may in some cases be related to deeper realities; but most 
men would not even recognise them in the form in which these men 
present them. There is probably, for instance, a fundamental 
assumption of human brotherhood that is common to all humanity. 

But what we call humanitarianism is not common to humanity. 

There is a certain recognition of reality and unreality which may 
be called common sense. But the scientific sense of the special 
value of truth is not generally regarded as common sense. 

It is silly to pretend that priests specially persecuted a naturalist, 
when the truth is that all the little boys would have persecuted him 
in any village in the world, merely because he was a lunatic with a 
butterfly-net. Public opinion, taken as a whole is much more contemptuous 
of specialists and seekers after truth than the Church ever was. 

But these critics never can take public opinion as a whole. 

There are a great many examples of this truth; one is the case I 
have given, the absurd notion that a horde of heathen raiders out of 
the northern seas and forests, in the most ignorant epoch of history, 
were not likely to be at least as ignorant as anybody else. 

They were, of course, much more ignorant than anybody with 

the slightest social connection with the Catholic Church. 

Other examples may be found in the story of other religions. 

Great tracts of the globe, covered in theory by the other religions, 
are often covered in practice merely by certain human habits of fatalism 
or pessimism or some other human mood. Islam very largely stands 
for the fatalism. Buddhism very largely stands for the pessimism. 

Neither of them knows anything of either the Christian or the humanitarian 
sort of hope. But an even more convincing experience is to go out into 

the street, or into a tube or a tram, and talk to the actual cabmen, 

cooks and charwomen cut off from the Creed by the modem chaos. 

You will find that heathens are not happy, however Nordic. 

You will soon find that you do not need to go to Arabia for fatalism; 
or to the Thibetan desert for despair. 

-/- 

ON THE NOVEL WITH A PURPOSE 

I SEE that Mr. Patrick Braybrooke and others, writing to the 
CATHOLIC TIMES, have raised the question of Catholic propaganda 
in novels written by Catholics. The very phrase, which we are all 
compelled to use, is awkward and even false. A Catholic putting 
Catholicism into a novel, or a song, or a sonnet, or anything else, 
is not being a propagandist; he is simply being a Catholic. 

Everybody understands this about every other enthusiasm in the world. 

When we say that a poet's landscape and atmosphere are full 
of the spirit of England, we do not mean that he is necessarily 
conducting an Anti-German propaganda during the Great War. 

We mean that if he is really an English poet, his poetry cannot 



be anything but English. When we say that songs are full of 

the spirit of the sea, we do not mean that the poet is recruiting 

for the Navy or even trying to collect men for the merchant service. 

We mean that he loves the sea; and for that reason would like 
other people to love it. Personally, I am all for propaganda; 
and a great deal of what I write is deliberately propagandist. 

But even when it is not in the least propagandist, it will 
probably be full of the implications of my own religion; 
because that is what is meant by having a religion. So the jokes 
of a Buddhist, if there were any, would be Buddhist jokes. 

So the love-songs of a Calvinistic Methodist, should they burst 
from him, would be Calvinistic Methodist love-songs. Catholics have 
produced more jokes and love-songs than Calvinists and Buddhists. 

That is because, saving their holy presence. Calvinists and Buddhists 
have not got so large or human a religion. But anything they did 
express would be steeped in any convictions that they do hold; 
and that is a piece of common sense which would seem to be 
quite self-evident; yet I foresee a vast amount of difficulty 
about it in the one isolated case of the Catholic Church. 

To begin with, what I have said would be true of any other 
real religion; but so much of the modern world is full of a 
religiosity that is rather a sort of unconscious prejudice. 

Buddhism is a real religion, or at any rate, a very real philosophy. 
Calvinism was a real religion, with a real theology. 

But the mind of the modern man is a curious mixture of decayed 
Calvinism and diluted Buddhism; and he expresses his philosophy without 
knowing that he holds it. We say what it is natural to us to say; 
but we know what we are saying; therefore it is assumed that we 
are saying it for effect. He says what it is natural to him to say; 
but he does not know what he is saying, still less why he is saying it. 
So he is not accused of uttering his dogma with the purpose of revealing 
it to the world; for he has not really revealed it to himself. 

He is just as partisan; he is just as particularist ; he is just as much 
depending on one doctrinal system as distinct from another. But he has 
taken it for granted so often that he has forgotten what it is. 

So his literature does not seem to him partisan, even when it is. 

But our literature does seem to him propagandist, even when it isn't. 

Suppose I write a story, let us hope a short story, say, about a wood 

that is haunted by evil spirits. Let us give ourselves the pleasure 
of supposing that at night all the branches have the appearance 
of being hung with hundreds of corpses, like the orchard of Louis 
the Eleventh, the spirits of travellers who have hanged themselves 
when they came to that spot; or anything bright and cheery like that. 

Suppose I make my hero, Gorlias Fitzgorgon (that noble character) 

make the sign of the cross as he passes this spot; or the friend 
who represents wisdom and experience advise him to consult 
a priest with a view to exorcism. Making the sign of the cross 
seems to me not only religiously right, but artistically 
appropriate and psychologically probable. It is what I should do; 
it is what I conceive that my friend Fitzgorgon would do; 
it is also aesthetically apt, or, as they say, "in the picture." 

I rather fancy it might be effective if the traveller saw 
with the mystical eye, as he saw the forest of dead men, a sort 
of shining pattern or silver tangle of crosses hovering in the dark, 
where so many human fingers had made that sign upon the empty air. 

But though I am writing what seems to me natural and appropriate 
and artistic, I know that the moment I have written it, 
a great roar and bellow will go up with the word "Propaganda" 



coining from a thousand throats; and that every other critic, 

even if he is kind enough to commend the story, will certainly add: 

"But why does Mr. Chesterton drag in his Roman Catholicism?" 

Now let us suppose that Mr Chesterton has not this disgusting habit. 

Let us suppose that I write the same story, or the same sort of story, 
informed with a philosophy which is familiar and therefore unobserved. 

Let us suppose that I accept the ready-made assumptions of the hour, 
without examining them any more than the others do. Suppose I get 
into the smooth rut of newspaper routine and political catchwords; 
and make the man in my story act exactly like the man in the average 
magazine story. I know exactly what the man in the average 
magazine story would do. I can almost give you his exact words. 

In that case Fitzgorgon, on first catching a glimpse of the crowds 
of swaying spectres in the moon, will almost inevitably say: 

"But this is the twentieth century!" 

In itself, of course, the remark is simply meaningless. 

It is far more meaningless than making the sign of the cross could 
ever be; for to that even its enemies attach some sort of meaning. 

But to answer a ghost by saying, "This is the twentieth century, " 
is in itself quite unmeaning; like seeing somebody commit 
a murder and then saying, "But this is the second Tuesday 
in August!" Nevertheless, the magazine writer who for the thousandth 
time puts these words into the magazine story, has an intention in this 
illogical phrase. He is really depending upon two dogmas; neither of 
which he dares to question and neither of which he is able to state. 

The dogmas are: first, that humanity is perpetually and permanently 

improving through the process of time; and, second, that improvement 
consists in a greater and greater indifference or incredulity about 
the miraculous. Neither of these two statements can be proved. 

And it goes without saying that the man who uses them cannot prove them, 
for he cannot even state them. In so far as they are at all in the order 
of things that can be proved, they are things that can be disproved. 

For certainly there have been historical periods of relapse 
and retrogression; and there certainly are highly organised and 
scientific civilizations very much excited about the super-natural; 
as people are about Spiritualism to-day. But anyhow, those two dogmas 
must be accepted on authority as absolutely true before there 
is any sense whatever in Gorlias Fitzgorgon saying, "But this 
is the twentieth century." The phrase depends on the philosophy; 
and the philosophy is put into the story. 

Yet nobody says the magazine story is propagandist. Nobody says 
it is preaching that philosophy because it contains that phrase. 

We do not say that the writer has dragged in his progressive 
party politics. We do not say that he is going out of his 
way to turn the short story into a novel with a purpose. 

He does not feel as if he were going out of his way; his way 
lies straight through the haunted wood, as does the other; 
and he only makes Gorlias say what seems to him a sensible thing 
to say; as I make him do what seems to me a sensible thing to do. 

We are both artists in the same sense; we are both propagandists 
in the same sense and non-propagandists in the same sense. 

The only difference is that I can defend my dogma and he cannot 
even define his. 

In other words, this world of to-day does not know that all 

the novels and newspapers that it reads or writes are in fact full 

of certain assumptions, that are just as dogmatic as dogmas. 



With some of those assumptions I agree, such as the ideal of human 
equality implied in all romantic stories from CINDERELLA to 
OLIVER TWIST; that the rich are insulting God in despising poverty. 

With some of them I totally disagree; as in the curious idea 
of human inequality, which is permitted about races though not 
about classes. "Nordic" people are so much superior to "Dagoes," 
that a score of Spanish desperados armed to the teeth are certain 
to flee in terror from the fist of any solitary gentleman who has 
learned all the military and heroic virtues in Wall Street 
or the Stock Exchange. But the point about these assumptions, 
true or false, is that they are felt as being assumed, 
or alluded to, or taken naturally as they come. They are not felt 
as being preached; and therefore they are not called propaganda. 

Yet they have in practice all the double character of propaganda; 
they involve certain views with which everyone does not agree; 
and they do in fact spread those views by means of fiction and 
popular literature. What they do not do is to state them clearly 
so that they can be criticised. I do not blame the writers for 
putting their philosophy into their stories. I should not blame 
them even if they used their stories to spread their philosophy. 

But they do blame us; and the real reason is that they have not yet 
realised that we have a philosophy at all. 

The truth is, I think, that they are caught in a sort of 
argument in a circle. Their vague philosophy says to them: 

"All religion is dead; Roman Catholicism is a religious sect 

which must be particularly dead, since it consists of mere external 

acts and attitudes, crossings, genuflections and the rest; 

which these sectarians suppose they have to perform in a particular 

place at a particular time." Then some Catholic will write 

a romance or a tragedy about the love of a man and woman, 

or the rivalry of two men, or any other general human affair; 

and they will be astonished to find that he cannot preach these things 

in an "unsectarian" way. They say, "Why does he drag in his religion?" 

They mean, "Why does he drag in his religion, which consists 

entirely of crossings, genuflections and external acts belonging 

to a particular place and time, when he is talking about the wide 

world and the beauty of woman and the anger and ambition of man?" 

In other words, they say, "When we have assumed that his creed is a small 
and dead thing, how dare he apply it as a universal and living thing? 

It has no right to be so broad, when we all know it is so narrow." 

I conclude therefore that, while Mr. Braybrooke was quite right 
in suggesting that a novelist with a creed ought not to be ashamed 
of having a cause, the more immediate necessity is to find some 
way of popularising our whole philosophy of life, by putting 
it more plainly than it can be put in the symbol of a story. 

The difficulty with a story is in its very simplicity and especially 
in its swiftness. Men do things and do not define or defend them. 

Gorlias Fitzgorgon makes the sign of the cross; he does not stop 
in the middle of the demon wood to explain why it is at once 
an invocation of the Trinity and a memorial of the Crucifixion. 

What is wanted is a popular outline of the way in which ordinary 
affairs are affected by our view of life, and how it is also a view 
of death, a view of sex, a view of social decencies, and so on. 

When people understood the light that shines for us upon all 
these facts, they would no longer be surprised to find it shining 
in our fictions. 

-/- 



THE REVOLT AGAINST IDEAS 


AT the time when the DAILY EXPRESS communiques provided some pretty 
awful revelations about Mexico, the DAILY EXPRESS correspondence 
column provided almost equally awful revelations about England. 

It gave us a glimpse of what monstrous and misshapen things are 
still living in our midst, veiled in red brick villas or disguised 
under bowler hats. The awful revelations about England were, 
of course, mainly psychological. It was not anarchy in the State, 
which is the failing of the fighting Latin peoples. It was anarchy 
in the mind, which is the special character of those whom we call, 
in moments of anger, Anglo-Saxons, A Mexican atheist would be quite 
capable of cutting the throat of a priest or training a cannon 
on a nunnery. But he would be quite incapable of arguing, 
as the English Protestants did in the newspaper, that it was quite 
right of Calles to persecute this belief on this occasion, because it 
was quite wrong of Catholics to persecute any belief on any occasion. 

No anarchist can be as anarchical as all that. Calles might blow 
up a St. Peter's but he would not blame a Spaniard for having once 
done what he was praising a Mexican for trying to do. To that extent 
even Calles is more of a Catholic as well as more of a Latin. 

He wants to have his own way, and to prevent thousands of people 
from having their way; but he does not want to have it both ways. 

That wild sacrament, the miracle of the vanishing and reappearing cake, 
of the cake that is ever devoured and ever remaining — that miracle 
belongs to the religion of unreason and only takes place in the chapels 
of our own free country. 

Amid a welter of such words there was a phrase in one of 
the letters which is of some sociological interest to us. 

One of these intolerant tolerationists was endeavouring to defend 
Calles by suggesting that only prejudice can accuse him of anarchical 
or anti-religious extremes of opinion. It is quite unfair 
(it was said) to call Calles an atheist or a Bolshevist. 

Indeed, we may learn from all these letters that Calles is probably 
a Wesleyan Methodist and regularly attends a chapel in East Croydon. 

But he is even worse. They appear to regard it as a favour 
to Calles to pay him the extraordinary compliment of comparing 
him to the sixteenth century Reformers. The correspondent 
here in question uses this as an argument against any alleged 
anarchism in the Mexican — if he is a Mexican. "Calles and his 
partisans are branded as Atheists and Bolsheviks — Why? Were the 
English Reformers Bolsheviks? Certainly not." 

Here we are happily all able to agree. With heartfelt unanimity we 
can repeat, "Certainly not." The English Reformers were certainly 
not Bolshevists. None will withhold the handsome admission that the 
English Reformers were Capitalists. Few people in history have deserved 
to be described so exactly, so completely, so typically as Capitalists. 
They were a great many other things besides Capitalists; 
some of them were cads, some gentlemen, a few honest men, 
many thieves, a baser sort courtiers, a better sort monomaniacs; 
but they were all Capitalists and what they created was Capitalism. 

They all conducted their powerful political operations on a basis 
of much accumulated capital; but they never, even with their dying eyes, 
lost the light of hope and expectation; the promise and the vision 
of more capital. 

But what concerns us nowadays is this; that it is their Capitalism 



that has remained. As a matter of fact, many of them did have other 
ideals of spiritual simplification which might in some ways be compared 
to Communism. We should never be likely to call a man like Cranmer or a 
man like Burleigh a Bolshevist. We could only say, with Hamlet, that we 
would he were so honest a man. But there were men in that movement, 
or that muddle, who were as mad and as honest as Bolshevists. 

There were theoretical, and especially theological enthusiasms which 
moved specially towards simplicity; like that of the Bolshevists. 

But the point to fix and rivet is that those theories are dead. 

There was a logical and even lofty scheme of thought; 

but it is that which is utterly abandoned by modem thought. 

There were sincere ideals in some of the early Protestants; 
but they are not the ideals of any of the modern Protestants. 

Thus Calvinism was a clear philosophy; which is alone enough to 
distinguish it from Modern Thought. But in so far as they had an element 
of Calvinism, their Calvinism is dead. If they had had an element 
of Communism, as some of them might, that Communism would now be dead. 
Nothing but their Capitalism is alive. 

We must remember that even to talk of the corruption of the monasteries 
is a compliment to the monasteries. For we do not talk of the corruption 
of the corrupt. Nobody pretends that the mediaeval institutions 
began in mere greed and pride. But the modern institutions did. 

Nobody says that St. Benedict drew up his rule of labour in 
order to make his monks lazy; but only that they became lazy. 

Nobody says that the first Franciscans practised poverty to 
obtain wealth; but only that later fraternities did obtain wealth. 

But it is quite certain that the Cecils and the Russells and 
the rest did from the first want to obtain wealth. That which 
was death to Catholicism was actually the birth of Capitalism. 

Since then we have had, not the inconsistency that a man who vowed 
to be poor became rich; but rather a shocking consistency, that the man 
who vowed to be rich became richer. After that there was no stopping 
a race of relative ambition; and a belief in bigger and bigger things. 

It is indeed true that the Reformers were not Communists. 

It might be aptly retorted that the Religious were Communists. But the 
more vital point is not Communism, but a certain comparative spirit. 

The English squire increased and the English yeoman diminished. 

Both found their pride in private ownership of land. 

But the pride was more and more in having a great estate, and not 
in having an estate. So, in his turn, the English shopkeeper 
ceased to be proud of minding his own business and could only be 
proud of the number of businesses he could mind. From this has 
come all the mercantile megalomania to-day; with its universal 
transformation of Trades into Trusts. It is the natural conclusion 
of the movement away from the transformation of all Trades into Guilds. 

But its genesis was the change from an ideal of humility, 

in which many failed, to an ideal of pride in which (by its nature) 

only a few can succeed. 

In this sense we may agree with the newspaper correspondent; 

that the Reformers were not Revolutionists. We can reassure that simple 

gentleman of our full realisation that they were not Bolshevists. 

We can entirely absolve the Cranmers and the Cromwells of any restless 
desire to raise the proletariat. We can clear the great names of Burleigh 
and Bacon of the stain of any dangerous sympathy with the poor. 

The distinguishing mark of the Reformers was a profound respect 
for the powers that be, but an even profounder respect for the wealth 
that was to be; and a really unfathomable reverence for the wealth 
that was to be their own. Some people like that spirit. 



and regard it as the soundest foundation of stable government; 

we need not argue about it here. It is, broadly speaking, 

what is regarded as respectability by all those who have nothing else 

to respect. Certainly nobody could confuse it with revolution. 

But the point of historical importance could be put in 
another fashion, also more or less favourable to the Reformers. 
Capitalism was not only solid, it was in a sense candid. It set up 
a class to be worshipped openly and frankly because of its wealth. 

That is the point at the moment and the real contrast between this 
and the older mediaeval order. Such wealth was the abuse of the monks 
and abbots; it was the use of the merchants and the squires. 

The avaricious abbot violated his ideals. The avaricious employer 
had no ideals to violate. For there never has been, properly speaking 
such a thing as the ideal good of Capitalism; though there are any 
number of good men who are Capitalists following other ideals. 

The Reformation, especially in England, was above all the abandonment 
of the attempt to rule the world by ideals, or even by ideas. 

The attempt had undoubtedly failed, in part, because those who 
were supposed to be the idealists failed to uphold the ideals; 
and any number of people who were supposed to accept the general 
idea thwarted the fulfilment of the ideas. But it also fell under 
the attack of those who hated, not only those ideals, but any ideals. 
It was the result of the impatient and imperious appetites of humanity 
hating to be restrained by bonds; but most of all to be restrained 
by invisible bonds. For the English Reformers did not really 
set up an opposite ideal or an alternative set of ideas. 

As our friend truly said, they were not Bolshevists. 

They set up certain very formidable things called facts. 

They set out almost avowedly to rule the realm merely by facts; 
by the fact that somebody called Russell had two hundred times more 
money than any of his neighbours; by the fact that somebody called 
Cecil had obtained the power of having any of his neighbours hanged. 
Facts are at least solid while they last; but the fatal thing about 
them is that they do not last. It is only the ideas that last. 

And to-day a man may be called Russell and have considerably less 
money than a man who is called Rockefeller; and history may see 
the amazing spectacle of a man called Cecil largely thrust out 
of practical politics and called an idealist and a failure. 

The same progress of Capitalism that made the squires has 
destroyed the squires. The same commercial advance that exalted 
England before Europe has abased England before America. 

Exactly in so far as we have our affections healthily attached to this 
adventurous and patriotic England of the last few centuries, we shall 
see that our affections and attachments are bound to be betrayed. 

The process called practical, the attempt to rule merely by facts, 
has in its own nature the essence of all betrayal. We discover 
that facts, which seem so solid, are of all things the most fluid. 

As the professors and the prigs say, facts are always evolving; 
in other words, they are always evading or escaping or running away. 
Men who bow down to the wealth of a squire, because it enables 
him to behave like a gentleman, have to go on bowing down to 
the same wealth in somebody who cannot behave like a gentleman; 
and eventually perhaps to the same wealth not attached to any 
recognisable human being at all, but invested in an irresponsible 
company in a foreign country. Wealth does indeed take to 
itself wings, and even abide in the uttermost parts of the sea. 

Wealth becomes formless an almost fabulous; indeed, they were 
unconscious satirists who talked about "fabulous wealth." 

Great financiers buy and sell thousands of things that nobody has 



ever seen; and which are for all practical purposes imaginary. 

So ends the adventure of trusting only to facts; it ends in a fairyland 
of fantastic abstractions. 

We must go back to the idea of government by ideas. There is just 
that grain of truth in the already mentioned fantasy of Communism. 

But there were many richer, and subtler and better balanced ideas 
even in the mediaeval make-up of Catholicism. I repeat that this 
Catholicism was ruined by Catholics as well as Protestants. 

Mediaeval sins hampered and corrupted mediaeval ideas, 
before the Reformers decided to throw away all ideas. 

But that was the right thing to follow, or to try to follow; and there 
is not and never will be anything else to do except to try again. 

Many mediaeval men failed in the attempt to live up to those ideals. 

But many more modern men are more disastrously failing in the attempt 
to live without them. And through that failure we shall gradually 
come to understand the real advantages of that ancient scheme 
which only partly failed; according to which, in theory at least, 
the man of peace was higher than the man of war, and poverty 
superior to wealth. 

There is one quaint little phrase in Macaulay's essay on Bacon; 
that great outbreak of the Philistines against the Philosophers. 

In one small sentence the great Philistine betrays the weakness 
of his whole argument of utility. Speaking scornfully of 
the Schoolmen, he says that St. Thomas Aquinas would doubtless 
(such was his simplicity) have thought it more important to engage 
in the manufacture of syllogisms than in the manufacture of gunpowder. 
Not even the Gunpowder Plot could prevent that sturdy 
Protestant from assuming that gunpowder is always useful. 

Since his time we have seen a good deal more gunpowder. 

One does not need to be a pacifist to think that gunpowder 
need hardly go on being useful on quite such a grand scale. 

And a great part of the world has now reached a mood of reaction, 
in which it is disposed to cry out, "If there are any syllogisms that wi 
save us from all this gunpowder, for God's sake let us listen to them." 
Even logic they are prepared, in their despair, to accept. 

They will not only listen to religion, they will even perhaps listen 
to reason, if it will promise them a little peace. 

-/- 

THE FEASTS AND THE ASCETIC 

I WAS reflecting in the course of the recent feast of Christmas 
(which, like other feasts, is preceded by a fast) that the combination 
is still a puzzle to many. The Modernist, or man who boasts of 
being modern, is generally rather like a man who overeats himself 
so much on Christmas Eve that he has no appetite on Christmas Day. 

It is called being In Advance of the Times; and is incumbent upon 
all who are progressive, prophetic, futuristic and generally 
looking towards what Mr. Belloc calls the Great Rosy Dawn: 
a dawn which generally looks a good deal rosier the night before 
than it does the morning after. 

To many people, however, who are not offensively in advance of the times 
the combination of these ideas does seem to be a sort of contradiction 
or confusion. But in real fact it is not only not so confused, 
but even not so complicated. The great temptation of the Catholic 



in the modern world is the temptation to intellectual pride. 

It is so obvious that most his critics are talking without in the least 
knowing what they are talking about, that he is sometimes a little 
provoked towards the very un-Christian logic of answering a fool 
according to his folly. He is a little bit disposed to luxuriate 
in secret, as it were over the much greater subtlety and richness 
of the philosophy he inherits; and only answer a bewildered 
barbarian so as to bewilder him still more. He is tempted 
to ironical agreements or even to disguising himself as a dunce. 

Men who have an elaborate philosophical defence of their views 
sometimes take pleasure in boasting of their almost babyish credulity. 
Having reached their own goal through labyrinths of logic, 
they will point the stranger only to the very shortest short cut 
of authority; merely in order to shock the simpleton with simplicity. 

Or, as in the present case, they will find a grim amusement 
in presenting the separate parts of the scheme as if they were 
really separate; and leave the outsider to make what he can of them. 

So when somebody says that a fast is the opposite to a feast, 

and yet both seem to be sacred to us, some of us will always be moved 

merely to say, "Yes," and relapse into an objectionable grin. 

When the anxious ethical enquirer says, "Christmas is devoted 
to merry-making, to eating meat and drinking wine, and yet you 
encourage this pagan and materialistic enjoyment," you or I will 
be tempted to say, "Quite right, my boy," and leave it at that. 

When he then says, looking even more worried, "Yet you admire men for 
fasting in caves and deserts and denying themselves ordinary pleasures; 
you are clearly committed, like the Buddhists, to the opposite 
or ascetic principle, " we shall be similarly inspired to say, 

"Quite correct, old bean, " or "Got it first time, old top, " 
and merely propose an adjournment for convivial refreshment. 

Nevertheless, it is a temptation to be resisted. 

Not only is it obviously our duty to explain to the other people 

that what seems to them contradictory is really complementary, 

but we are not altogether justified in any such tone of superiority. 

We are not right in making our geniality an expression of our despair. 

We are not entitled to despair of explaining the truth; nor is it really 
so horribly difficult to explain. The real difficulty is not so much 
that the critic is crude as that we ourselves are not always clear, 
even in our own minds, far less in our public expositions. 

It is not so much that they are not subtle enough to understand it, 
as that they and we and everybody else are not simple enough to 
understand it. Those two things are obviously part of one thing, 
if we are straightforward enough to look at the thing; and to see 
it simply as it is. I suggested recently that people would see 
the Christian story if it could only be told as a heathen story. 

The Faith is simply the story of a God who died for men. 

But, queerly enough, if we were even to print the words without 
a capital G, as if it were the cult of some new and nameless tribe, 
many would realise the idea for the first time. Many would feel 
the thrill of a new fear and sympathy if we simply wrote, "the story 
of a god who died for men." People would sit up suddenly and say 
what a beautiful and touching pagan religion that must be. 

Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Church is out of 
the question; that we have nothing but the earth and the children of man 
pottering about on it, with their normal mortal tales and traditions. 
Then suppose there appears on this earth a prodigy, a portent, 
or what is alleged to be a portent. In some way heaven has rent 
the veil or the gods have given some new marvel to mankind. 



Suppose, for instance, it is a fountain of magic water, said to be 
flowing at the top of a mountain. It blesses like holy water; 
it heals diseases; it inspires more than wine, or those who drink 
of it never thirst again. Well, this story may be true or false; 
but among those who spread it as true, it is perfectly obvious 
that the story will produce a number of other stories. 

It is equally obvious that those stories will be of two kinds. 

The first sort will say: "When the water was brought 

down to the valley there was dancing in all the villages; 
the young men and maidens rejoiced with music and laughter. 

A surly husband and wife were sprinkled with the holy water 
and reconciled, so that their house was full of happy children. 

A cripple was sprinkled and he went capering about gaily like an acrobat 
The gardens were watered and became gay with flowers," and so on. 

It is quite equally obvious that there will be another sort of story 
from exactly the same source, told with exactly the same motive. 

"A man limped a hundred miles, till he was quite lame, 

to find the sacred fountain. Men lay broken and bleeding among 

the rocks on the mountainside in their efforts to climb after it. 

A man sold all his lands and the rivers running through them 

for one drop of the water. A man refused to turn back from it, 

when confronted with brigands, but was tortured and died calling for it, 

and so on. There is nothing in the least inconsistent between 

these two types of legend. They are exactly what would naturally 

be expected, given the original legend of the miraculous fountain. 

Anyone who can really look at them simply, can see that they are 
both equally simple. But we in our time have confused ourselves 
with long words for unreal distinctions; and talking incessantly 
about optimism and pessimism, about asceticism and hedonism, 
about what we call Paganism and what we think about Buddhism, 
till we cannot understand a plain tale when it is told. 

The Pagan would have understood it much better. 

This very simple truth explains another fact that I have heard 
the learned insist on with some excitement: the emphasis and repetition 

touching the ascetic side of religion. It is exactly what would 
happen with any human story, even if it were a heathen story. 

We remark upon the case of the man who starves to get the water more 
than on the case of the man who is merely glad to get the water. 

We remark upon it more because it is more remarkable. Any human 
tradition would make more of the heroes who suffered for something 
than of the human beings who simply benefited by it. But that does 
not alter the fact that there are more human beings than heroes; 
and that this great majority of human beings has benefited by it. 

It is natural that men should marvel more at the man who deliberately 
lames himself than at the man who dances when he is no longer lame. 

But that does not alter the fact that the countries where that 
legend prevails are, in fact, full of dancing. I have here 
only suggested how very simple, after all, is the contradiction 
between austerity and jollity which puzzles our critics so much. 

There is a higher application of it to ascetics, which I may consider 
on another occasion. Here I will only hint at it by saying: 

"The more a man could LIVE only on the water, the more he would 
prove it to be the water of life." 

-/- 

WHO ARE THE CONSPIRATORS? 

I CAME across, more or less indirectly, the other day, a lady 



of educated and even elegant pretensions, of the sort whom her foes 
would call luxurious and her friends cultured, who happened to mention 
a certain small West Country town, and added with a sort of hiss 
that it contained "a nest of Roman Catholics." This apparently 
referred to a family with which I happen to be acquainted. 

The lady then said, her voice changing to a deep note of doom, 

"God alone knows what is said and done behind those closed doors." 

On hearing this stimulating speculation, my mind went back to 
what I remembered of the household in question, which was largely 
concerned with macaroons, and a little girl who rightly persuaded 
herself that I could eat an almost unlimited number of them. 

But when I contrasted that memory with that vision it was brought 
suddenly and stunningly to my mind what a vast abyss still yawns 
between us and many of our countrymen, and what extraordinary ideas 
are still entertained about us, by people who walk about the world 
without keepers or strait-waistcoats and are apparently, on all 
other subjects, sane. It is doubtless true, and theologically sound, 
to say that God alone knows what goes on in Catholic homes; 
as it is to say that God alone knows what goes on in Protestant heads. 
I do not know why a Catholic's doors should be any more closed 
than anybody else's doors; the habit is not unusual in persons 
of all philosophical beliefs when retiring for the night; and on 
other occasions depends on the weather and the individual taste. 

But even those who would find it difficult to believe that an 
ordinary Catholic is so eccentric as to bolt and padlock himself 
in the drawing-room or the smoking-room, whenever he strolls 
into those apartments, do really have a haunting idea that it 
is more conceivable of a Catholic than of a Calvinistic Methodist 
or a Plymouth Brother. There does remain the stale savour of a 
sort of sensational romance about us; as if we were all foreign 
counts and conspirators. And the really interesting fact is 
that this absurd melodrama can be found among educated people; 
though now rather in an educated individual than in an educated class. 
The world still pays us this wild and imaginative compliment 
of imagining that we are much less ordinary than we really are. 

The argument, of course, is the one with which we are wearily familiar 
in twenty other aspects; the argument that because the evidence 
against us cannot be produced, it must have been concealed. 

It is obvious that Roman Catholics do not generally shout to each 
other the arrangements of a St. Bartholomew Massacre across 
the public streets; and the only deduction any reasonable man can 
draw is that they do it behind closed doors. It is but seldom 
that the project of burning down London is proclaimed in large 
letters on the posters of the Universe; so what possible deduction 
can there be, except that the signals are given at the private 
tea-table by means of a symbolical alphabet of macaroons? 

It would be an exaggeration to say that it is my daily habit to leap 
upon aged Jews in Fleet Street and tear out their teeth; so, given my 
admitted monomania on the subject, it only remains to suppose that 
my private house is fitted up like a torture chamber for this mode 
of mediaeval dentistry. Catholic crimes are not plotted in public, 
so it stands to reason that they must be plotted in private. 

There is indeed a third remote and theoretical alternative; 

that they are not plotted anywhere; but it is unreasonable to expect 

our fellow-countrymen to suggest anything so fanciful as that. 

Now this mysterious delusion, still far commoner than many suppose 
even in England, and covering whole interior spaces of America, 
happens to be another illustration of what I have been suggesting 



in an earlier essay; the fact that those who are always 
digging and prying for secret things about us, have never even 
glanced at the most self-evident things about themselves. 

We have only to ask ourselves, with a sort of shudder, what would 
have been said if we really had confessed to conspiracy as 
shamelessly as half our accusers have confessed to it themselves. 

What in the world would be said, either in America or in Europe, if we 
really had behaved like a secret society, in places where the groups 
of our enemies cannot even deny that they are secret societies? 

What in the world would happen if a Catholic Congress at Glasgow 
or Leeds really consisted entirely of hooded and white-robed 
delegates, all with their faces covered and their names unknown, 
looking out of slits in their ghastly masks of white? 

Yet this was, until just lately, the rigid routine of the great 
American organisation to destroy Catholicism; an organisation 
which recently threatened to seize all government in America. 

What would have been said, if there really was a definite, recognised, 
but entirely unknown thing, called the Secret of the Catholics; 
as there has been for long past a recognised but unknown reality 
called the Secret of the Freemasons? I dare say a great deal 
involved in such things is mere harmless foolery. But if we had done 
such things, would our critics have said it was harmless foolery? 

Suppose we had started to spread the propaganda of the Faith 
by means of a movement called "Know Nothing, " because we were in 
the habit of always shaking our heads and shrugging our shoulders 
and swearing that we knew nothing of the Faith we meant to spread. 
Suppose our veneration for the dignity of St. Peter were wholly 
and solely a veneration for the denial of St. Peter; and we used it 
as a sort of motto or password to swear that we knew not Christ. 

Yet that was admittedly the policy of a whole political movement 
in America, which aimed at destroying the citizenship of Catholics. 
Suppose that the Mafia and all the murderous secret associations 
of the Continent had been notoriously working on the Catholic side, 
instead of the other side. Should we ever have heard the last of it? 
Would not the world have rung with indignant denunciation of a disgrace 
clinging to all our conduct, and a treason that must never be forgot? 

Yet these things are done constantly, and at regular intervals, 
and right down to the present day, by the Anti-Catholic parties; 
and it is never thought necessary to recall them, or say a word 
of apology for them, in the writings of any Anti-Catholic partisan. 

It would be just our Jesuitical way to dare to look over hedges, 
when everybody else is only stealing horses. 

In short, what I recently said of bigotry is even more true of secrecy. 
In so far as there is something merely antiquated about a certain 
type of doctrinal narrowness, it is much more characteristic 
of Dayton, Tennessee, than of Louvain or Rome. And in the same way, 
in so far as there is something antiquated about all these antics in mas 
and cloaks, it has been much more characteristic of the Ku Klux Klan 
than of the Jesuits. Indeed, this sort of Protestant is a figure 
of old-fashioned melodrama in a double sense and in a double aspect. 

He is antiquated in the plots he attributes to us and in the plots 
that he practises himself. 

As regards the latter, it is probable that the whole world will 
discover this fact a long time before he does. The anti-clerical 
will go on playing solemnly the pranks of Cagliostro, like a medium 
still blindfolded in broad daylight; and will open his mouth 
in mysteries long after everybody in the world is completely 
illuminated about the illuminati. And though the almost half-witted 



humour of the American society, which seemed to consist entirely 
of beginning as many words as possible with KL, has been rather 
abruptly toned down by a reaction of relative sanity, I have no doubt 
that there is still many a noble Nordic fellow going about hugging 
himself over the happy secret that he is a Kleagle or a Klemperor, 
long after everybody has ceased to klare a klam whether he is or not. 

On the political side the power of these conspiracies has been 
practically broken in both Continents; in Italy by the Fascists and in 
America by a rally of reasonable and public-spirited governors of both 
political parties. But the point of historical interest remains: 
that it was the very people who accused us of mummery and mystery 
who surrounded all their secularising activities with far more fantastic 
mysteries and mummeries; that they had not even the manhood to fight 
an ancient ritual with the appearance of republican simplicity, 
but boasted of hiding everything in a sort of comic complexity; 
even when there was nothing to hide. By this time such movements 
as the Ku Klux Klan have very little left which can be hidden or 
which is worth hiding; and it is therefore probable that our romantic 
curiosity about them will be considerably colder than their undying 
romantic curiosity about us. The Protestant lady will continue 
to resent the fact that God does not share with her his knowledge 
of the terrible significance of tea and macaroons in the Catholic home. 
But we shall probably in the future feel a fainter and fainter 
interest in whatever it is that Kleagues do behind closed — 
or perhaps I should say Klosed Doors. 

-/- 

THE HAT AND THE HALO 

PERHAPS it is a little ungenerous to refer again to the fiasco of the 
unfortunate Bishop of Birmingham, when he made an exhibition of himself 
on the subject of St. Francis. That he should be unable to restrain 
himself from attacking one whom so many free-thinkers have loved 
and reverenced is interesting as showing how far sectarians can go. 

But the tone of the attack raises a question more interesting than 
the personal one. It may be called broadly the question of Sentiment; 
but it involves the whole question of what things in life are deep 
and what things shallow; what is central and what is merely external. 

It is needless to say that people like the Bishop invariably 
and instinctively get them the wrong way round. 

For instance, he said something to the effect that people are now 
seeing St. Francis in a halo of false sentiment, or through a haze 
of false sentiment. I am not sure which he said and I doubt whether 
he knew which he meant. If the Bishop had a halo it would probably 
be rather like a haze. But anyhow he implied that the hero-worship 
of St. Francis was a sort of external and extraneous thing, 
a dazzling distraction or a distorting medium, something added to 
his figure afterwards; whereas the facts about the real St. Francis 
were quite different and decidedly repulsive to a refined person. 

Well, the poor Bishop got all his facts about St. Francis 
quite wrong; and his claim to talk about the REAL St. Francis, 
even in an ordinary historical sense, was pretty rapidly shown up. 

But there was something behind it which interests me much more. 

It is the curious trick of turning everything inside out; 
so that the really central things become external and the merely 
external things central. The inmost soul of St. Francis is a haze 
of false sentiment; but the accidents of his historical setting, 
as viewed by people without any historical sense, are a sort 



of dreadful secret of his soul. 


According to this sort of criticism, St. Francis had a great soul; 
which was merely a cloak for a miserable body. It is sentimental 
to consider what he felt like. But it is realistic to consider 
what he looked like. Or rather it is realistic to consider what 
he would have looked like to the best-dressed people in Birmingham 
who never saw him, or the fashionable tailor in Bond Street 
who never had the opportunity of making him a suit of clothes. 

The critic tells us what some hypothetical suburban snob 
of the twentieth century would have thought of the Saint 
he never saw; and that is the real truth about the Saint. 

We can tell him what the Saint would have thought of the suburban snob 
(and his thoughts would have been full of the simple and spontaneous 
tenderness which he showed to all small and helpless creatures) 
but that is only sentiment about St. Francis. What St Francis himself 
felt about all other creatures is only a misleading and artificial 
addition to his character. But what some of the most limited and 
least imaginative of those creatures might possibly think about him, 
or rather about his clothes or his meals — that alone is reality. 

When the admirers of St. Francis, who number myriads of Protestants 
and Agnostics as well as Catholics, say that they admire that great man, 
they mean that they admire his mind, his affections, his tastes, 
his point of view. They mean that, like any other poet, he puts them 
in a position to view the world in a certain way; and that life looked 
at from his mental standpoint is more inspiring or intelligible. 

But when the Bishop tells them that they do not know the facts about 
St. Francis, he does not mean that St. Francis had some other mind 
or some other standpoint. He means that St. Francis did not have 
hot and cold water laid on in the bathroom, did not put on a clean 
collar every morning, did not send a sufficient number of shirts 
to the Birmingham Imperial Laundry every week, did not have black 
mud smeared on his boots or white mud to stiffen his shirt front, 
and all the rest of it. And that is what he calls the truth about 
St. Francis! Everything else, including everything that St. Francis 
did do, is a haze of sentiment. 

That is the deeper problem of which this foolish affair happens 
to be an illustration. How are we to make these superficial people 
understand that we are not being sentimental about St. Francis, that we 
are not presenting an elegant and poetical picture of St. Francis; 
that we are not presenting irresponsible emotional ravings about 
St. Francis; that we are simply presenting St. Francis? We are 
presenting a remarkable mind; just as Plato presented a remarkable mind, 
whether it was his own or somebody else's. We think no more 
of Bishop Barnes and his nonsense than a Platonist would think 
about some joke in Aristophanes about Socrates catching fleas. 

There may have been people who saw that mind through a haze 
of false sentiment; there were people who saw it through a haze 
of exaggerated enthusiasm; like those heretics who made St. Francis 
greater than Christ and the founder of a new dispensation. 

But even those fanatics were more like philosophers than a gentleman 
who is content to say either of a true saint or a false god, 
that his taste in linen and steam laundries was "not ours." 

In short, the true situation is simple and obvious enough. 

It is we who are thinking about the real Francis Bernadone, 
even the realistic Francis Bernadone, the actual man whose mind and mood 
we admire. It is the critic who is thinking of the unreal Francis, 
a fantastic phantom produced by looking at him in a Bond Street 



looking-glass or comparing him with the fashion-plates of 1926. 

If it is well for a man to be happy, to have the way of welcoming 
the thing that happens and the next man that comes along, 
then St. Francis was happy; happier than most modern men. 

If it be good that a man should be sympathetic, should include 
a large number of things in his imaginative sympathy, should have 
a hospitality of the heart for strange things and strange people, 
then St. Francis was sympathetic; more sympathetic than most modern men. 
If it be good that a man should be original, should add something 
creative and not merely customary or conventional, should do 
what he thinks right in his own way and without fear of worldly 
consequences in rum or starvation, then St. Francis was original; 
more original than most modern men. All these are tests at once 
personal and permanent; they deal with the very essence of the ego 
or individual and they are not affected by changes in external fashion. 

To say that these things are mere sentiment is to say that the inmost 
sense of the inmost self is mere sentiment. And yet how are we 
to stop superficial people from calling it mere sentiment? 

How are we to make them realise that it is not we who have a sentimental 
attachment to a mediaeval friar, but they who have an entirely 
sentimental attachment to certain modern conventions? 

Such critics have never really thought of asking what they mean 
by "sentiment," still less what they mean by "false sentiment." 

"False" is simply a conventional term of abuse to be applied 
to "sentiment"; and "sentiment" is simply a conventional term 
of abuse to be applied to Catholicism. But it is very much more 
applicable nowadays to Protestantism. It is especially applicable 
to Bishop Barnes's own rather nebulous type of Protestantism. 

Men of his school always complain of our thinking too much of theology, 
just as they complained a few centuries before of our thinking 
too little of theology. But theology is only the element of reason 
in religion; the reason that prevents it from being a mere emotion. 

There are a good many broad-minded persons for whom it is only an emotion 
and it would hardly be unfair to say a it is only a sentiment. 

And we have not to look far for them in cases like these. 

If a school of critics were found prepared to pay divine honours 
to a certain person while doubting whether he was divine, 
men who took off their hats in his churches s while denying 
that he was present on his altars, who hinted that he was only 
a religious teacher and then hinted again that he must be served 
as if he were the only teacher of religion; who are always ready 
to treat him as a fallible individual in relation to his rivals, 
and then to invoke him as an infallible authority against his followers, 
who dismiss every text they choose to think dogmatic and then 
gush over every text they choose to think amiable, who heckle him 
with Higher Criticism about three-quarters of what he said and then 
grovel before a mawkish and unmanly ideal made by misunderstanding 
the little which is left — if there were a school of critics in THIS 
relation to a historical character, we might very well admit that they 
were not getting to grips with it, but surrounding it with "a halo 
of false sentiment." 

That is the vital distinction. At least we do not admit sentiment 
as a substitute for statement; still less as a contradiction 
of something that we state. There may be devotional expressions 
that are emotional, and even extravagantly emotional; but they do 
not actually distort any definition that is purely intellectual. 

But in the case of our critics, the confusion is in the intellect. 



We do not claim that all our pictorial or poetical expressions 

are adequate; but the fault is in the execution not in the conception. 

And there is a conception which is not a confusion. 

We do not say that every pink and blue doll from an 

Art Repository is a satisfactory symbol of the Mother of God. 

But we do say that it is less of a contradiction than exists 

in a person who says there is no Original Sin in anybody, and then 

calls it Mariolatry to say there was no Original Sin in Mary. 

We do not profess to admire the little varnished pictures 
of waxen angels or wooden children around the Communion Table. 

But we do most strongly profess and proclaim that they are less of a blot 
on the intellectual landscape than a bishop who suggests that the Host 
may actually be the divine Presence, but that High Church curates 
will do his lordship a personal favour if they take no notice of it. 

We are under no illusions about the literary quality of a large 

number of hymns in our hymn-books, or any other hymn-books. But we 

modestly submit that though they are doggerel they are not nonsense; 

and that saying that we can assert a personal God, a personal immortality, 

a personal divine love that extends to the least and worst, 

and do all this without holding "a Creed," is nonsense. 

We know that the nearest sane agnostic or atheist would agree 
that it is nonsense. Devotional art and literature are often out 
of balance or broken in expression; sometimes because the emotion 
is too real and too strong for the reason, the same thing which makes 
the love-letters of the wisest men like the letters of lunatics; 
sometimes from a real deficiency in the individual power of reason; 
but never from a theoretical repudiation of reason, like that 
of the Pragmatists and about three-quarters of the Modernists. 

And in the same way it is the very reverse of the truth to say 
that a mere emotional distortion of the facts has drawn the modern 
mind towards St. Francis. It is, on the contrary, emphatically an 
attraction of mind to mind; and the more purely mental the process, 
the less it will be interrupted by ignorant irritation against 
the strangeness of Italian manners or mediaeval conditions. 

And in this case there is no international problem. 

Thousands of Englishmen who know nothing but England glow with love 
and understanding of St. Francis. We may well feel an unaffected 
pity for the one unlucky Englishman who cannot understand. 

-/- 

ON TWO ALLEGORIES 

PERHAPS it is only fair that the modern iconoclasm should be 
applied also to the ancient iconoclasts; and especially to the 
great Puritans, those idol-breakers who have long been idols. 

Mr. Belloc was recently tapping the Parliamentary statue of Cromwell 
with a highly scientific hammer; and Mr. Noyes has suddenly assailed 
the image of Bunyan with something more like a sledge-hammer. In 
the latter case I confess to thinking the reaction excessive; 

I should say nothing worse of Bunyan than of many old writers; 

that he is best known by his best passages, and that many, 

who fondly believe they have read him, would be mildly surprised 

at some of his worst passages. But that is not peculiar to Bunyan; 

and I for one should be content with saying what I said some years ago. 

A fair and balanced view of the culture and creeds involved can best 
be reached by comparing the Pilgrimage of Christian with the Pilgrimage 
of Piers Plowman. The Puritan allegory is much neater (even if it 
be not always neat) than the rather bewildering mediaeval medley. 

The Puritan allegory is more national, in the sense that the 



language and style have obviously become clearer and more fixed. 

But the Puritan allegory is certainly much narrower than the 
mediaeval allegory. Piers Plowman deals with the death or resurrection 
of a whole human society, where men are members of each other. 

In the later work schism has "isolated the soul"; and it is 
certainly mere individualism, when it is not mere terrorism. 

But I will only say now what I said then; I do not want to damage 
the statue of John Bunyan at Bedford, where it stands facing 
(symbolically in more ways than one) the site of his own prison. 

But I do wish there were a statue of John Langland, uplifted on 
a natural height into a more native air, and looking across all 
England from the Malvern hills. 

But there is one intellectual side issue of the debate that does 
interest me very much. Mr. James Douglas, who once presented himself 
to me as a representative of Protestant truth, and who is certainly 
a representative of Protestant tradition, answered Mr. Alfred Noyes 
in terms very typical of the present state of that tradition. 

He said that we should salute Bunyan ' s living literary genius, 
and not bother our heads about Bunyan ' s obsolete theology. 

Then he added the comparison which seems to me so thought-provoking: 
that this is after all what we do, when we admire Dante's genius and not 
HIS obsolete theology. Now there is a distinction to be made here; 
if the whole modern mind is to realize at all where it stands. 

If I say that Bunyan ' s theology IS obsolete, but Dante's theology 
is NOT obsolete — then I know the features of my friend Mr. Douglas 
will be wreathed in a refined smile of superiority and scorn. 

He will say that I am a Papist and therefore of course I think 
the Papist dogmatism living. But the point is that he is 
a Protestant and he thinks the Protestant dogmatism dead. 

I do at least defend the Catholic theory because it can be defended. 

The Puritans would presumably be defending the Puritan theory — 
if it could be defended. The point is that it is dead for them 
as much as for us. It is not merely that Mr. Noyes demands 
the disappearance of a disfigurement; it is that Mr. Douglas says 
it cannot be a disfigurement because it has already disappeared. 

Now the Thomist philosophy, on which Dante based his poetry has 
not disappeared. It is not a question of faith but of fact; 
anybody who knows Paris or Oxford, or the worlds where such things 
are discussed, will tell you that it has not disappeared. 

All sorts of people, including those who do not believe in it, 
refer to it and argue against it on equal terms. 

I do not believe, for a fact, that modern men so discuss the seventeenth 

century sectarianism. Had I the privilege of passing a few days 
with Mr. Douglas and his young lions of the DAILY EXPRESS, I doubt 

not that we should discuss and differ about many things. 

But I do rather doubt whether Mr. Douglas would every now and 
again cry out, as with a crow of pure delight "Oh, I must read 
you this charming little bit from Calvin." I do rather doubt 
whether his young journalists are joyously capping each other's 
quotations from Toplady's sermons on Calvinism. But eager young 
men do still quote Aquinas, just as they still quote Aristotle. 

I have heard them at it. And certain ideas are flying about, 
even in the original prose of St. Thomas, as well as in the poetry 
of Dante — or, for that matter, of Donne. 

The case of Bunyan is really the opposite of the case of Dante. 

In Dante the abstract theory still illuminates the poetry; 
the ideas enlighten even where the images are dark. 



In Bunyan it is the human facts and figures that are bright; 
while the spiritual background is not only dark in spirit, 
but blackened by time and change. Of course it is true enough 
that in Dante the mere images are immensely imaginative. 

It is also true that in one sense some of them are obsolete; 
in the sense that the incidents are obsolete and the personal 
judgment merely personal. Nobody will ever forget how there came 
through the infernal twilight the figure of that insolent troubadour, 
carrying his own head aloft in his hand like a lantern to light his way. 
Everybody knows that such an image is poetically true to certain 
terrible truths about the unnatural violence of intellectual pride. 

But as to whether anybody has any business to say that Bertrand de 
Born is damned, the obvious answer is No. Dante knew no more about it 
than I do: only he cared more about it; and his personal quarrel is 

an obsolete quarrel. But that sort of thing is not Dante's theology, 
let alone Catholic theology. 

In a word; so far from his theology being obsolete, it would be much 
truer to say that everything is obsolete except his theology. 

That he did not happen to like a particular Southern gentleman 
is obsolete; but that was at most a private fancy, in demonology 
rather than theology. We come to theology when we come to theism. 

And if anybody will read the passage in which Dante grapples with 
the gigantic problem of describing the Beatific Vision, he will find 
it is uplifted into another world of ideas from the successful 
entry to the Golden City at the end of the Pilgrim's Progress. 

It is a Thought; which a thinker, especially a genuine freethinker, 
is always free to go on thinking. The images of Dante 
are not to be worshipped, any more than any other images. 

But there is an idea behind all images; and it is before that, 
in the last lines of the Paradiso, that the spirit of the poet 
seems first to soar like an eagle and then to fall like a stone. 

There is nothing in this comparison that reflects on the genius 
and genuineness of Bunyan in his own line or class; but it 
does serve to put him in his own class. I think there was 
something to be said for the vigorous denunciation of Mr. Noyes; 
but no such denunciation is involved in this distinction. 

On the contrary, it would be easy to draw the same distinction 
between two men both at the very top of all literary achievement. 

It would be true to say, I think, that those who most enjoy 
reading Homer care more about an eternal humanity than an 
ephemeral mythology. The reader of Homer cares more about men 
than about gods. So, as far as one can guess, does Homer. 

It is true that if those curious and capricious Olympians did 
between them make up a religion, it is now a dead religion. 

It is the human Hector who so died that he will never die. 

But we should remonstrate with a critic who, after successfully 
proving this about Homer, should go on to prove it about Plato. 

We should protest if he said that the only interest of the 

Platonic Dialogues to-day is in their playful asides and very lively 

local colour, in the gay and graceful picture of Greek life; 

but that nobody troubles nowadays about the obsolete philosophy of Plato. 

We should point out that there is no truth in the comparison; 

and that if anything the case is all the other way. 

Plato's philosophy will be important as long as there is philosophy; 
and Dante's religion will be important as long as there is religion. 

Above all it will be important as long as there is that lucid 
and serene sort of religion that is most in touch with philosophy. 

Nobody will say that the theology of the baptist tinker is in that sense 



serene or even lucid; on many points it necessarily remains obscure. 

The reason is that such religion does not do what philosophy does; 
it does not begin at the beginning. In the matter of mere chronological 
order, it is true that the pilgrimage of Dante and that of Bunyan 
both end in the Celestial City. But it is in a very different sense 
that the pilgrimage of Bunyan begins in the City of Destruction. 

The mind of Dante, like that of his master St. Thomas, really begins 
as well as ends in the City of Creation. It begins as well as ends 
in the burning focus in which all things began. He sees his series 
from the right end, though he then begins it at the wrong end. 

But it is the whole point of a personal work like THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

that it does begin with a man's own private sins and private panic 

about them. This intense individualism gives it great force; 

but it cannot in the nature of things give it great breadth and range. 

Heaven is haven; but the wanderer has not many other thoughts 

about it except that it is haven. It is typical of the two methods, 

each of them very real in its way, that Dante could write a whole volume, 

one-third of his gigantic epic, describing the things of Heaven; 

whereas in the case of Bunyan, as the gates of Heaven open 

the book itself closes. 

I think it worth while to write this note on the critical remark of 
Mr. James Douglas, because it is a remark that would be made as readily 
by many other intelligent men to-day. But it is founded on a fallacy; 
on the idea that the choice between living philosophies and dead 
philosophies is the same as the choice between old philosophies and new. 
It is not true of Plato and it is not true of Dante; and, apart from 
whatever is our own philosophy, we should realise that some of 
the most ancient are the most alive. 

-/- 

THE PROTESTANT SUPERSTITIONS 

THAT delightful guessing game, which has long caused innocent merriment 
in so many Catholic families, the game of guessing at exactly 
which line of an article say on Landscape or Latin Elegiacs, we shall 
find the Dean of St. Paul's introducing the Antidote to Antichrist; 
or the Popish Plot Revealed — that most familiar of our Catholic 
parlour games happened to be entertaining me some time ago, 
as a sort of substitute for a crossword puzzle, when I found I had hit 
on a very lucky example. I wrote above about "Catholic families," 
and had almost, by force of associations written "Catholic firesides." 
And I imagine that the Dean really does think that even in this weather 
we keep the home-fires burning, like the fire of Vesta, in permanent 
expectation of relighting the fires of Smithfield. Anyhow, this sort 
of guessing game or crossword puzzle is seldom disappointing. 

The Dean must by this time have tried quite a hundred ways of leading 
up to his beloved topic; and even concealing it, like a masked battery, 
until he can let loose the cannonade in a perfect tornado of temper. 

Then the crossword puzzle is no longer a puzzle, though the crosswords 
are apparent and appropriate enough; especially those devoted 
to the great historical process of crossing out the Cross. 

In the case of this particular article, it was only towards the end 
of it that the real subject was allowed to leap out from an ambush 
upon the reader. I think it was a general article on Superstition; 
and, being a journalistic article of the modern type, it was of course 
devoted to discussing superstition without defining superstition. 

In an article of that enlightened sort, it seemed enough for the writer 



to suggest that superstition is anything that he does not happen to like. 
Some of the things are also things that I do not happen to like. 

But such a writer is not reasonable even when he is right. 

A man ought to have some more philosophical objection to stories 
of ill luck than merely calling them credulity; as certainly 
as a man ought to have some more philosophical objection 
to Mass than to call it Magic. It is hardly a final refutation 
of Spiritualists to prove that they believe in Spirits; any more 
than a refutation of Deists to prove that they believe in Deity. 

Creed and credence and credulity are words of the same origin 
and can be juggled backwards and forwards to any extent. 

But when a man assumes the absurdity of anything that anybody 

else believes, we wish first to know what he believes; on what principle 

he believes; and, above all, upon what principle he disbelieves. 

There is no trace of anything so rational in the Dean's piece 
of metaphysical journalism. If he had stopped to define his terms, 
or in other words to tell us what he was talking about, such an abstract 
analysis would of course have filled up some space in the article. 

There might have been no room for the Alarum Against the Pope. 

The Dean of St. Paul's got to business, in a paragraph in the second 
half of his article, in which he unveiled to his readers all the horrors 
of a quotation from Newman; a very shocking and shameful passage 
in which the degraded apostate says that he is happy in his religion, 

and in being surrounded by the things of his religion; that he likes 

to have objects that have been blessed by the holy and beloved, that there 
is a sense of being protected by prayers, sacramentals and so on; 
and that happiness of this sort satisfies the soul. The Dean, 
having given us this one ghastly glimpse of the Cardinal's spiritual 
condition, drops the curtain with a groan and says it is Paganism. 

How different from the Christian orthodoxy of Plotinus! 

Now it was exactly that little glimpse that interested me in this matter; 

not so much a glimpse into the soul of the Cardinal as into 

the mind of the Dean. I suddenly seemed to see, in much simpler 
form than I had yet realised, the real issue between him and us. 

And the curious thing about the issue is this; that what he thinks 
about us is exactly what we think about him. What I for one 
feel most strongly, in considering a case like that of the Dean 
and his quotation from the Cardinal, is that the Dean is a man of 
distinguished intelligence and culture, that he is always interesting, 
that he is sometimes even just, or at least justified or justifiable; 
but that he is first and last the champion of a Superstition; 
the man who is really and truly defending a Superstition, as it 
would be understood by people who could define a Superstition. 

What makes it all the more amusing is that it is in a rather special 
sense a Pagan Superstition. But what makes it most intensely 
interesting, so far as I am concerned, is that the Dean is devoted 
to what may be called par excellence a superstitious Superstition. 

I mean that it is in a special sense a LOCAL superstition. 

Dean Inge is a superstitious person because he is worshipping a relic; 
a relic in the sense of a remnant. He is idolatrously adoring 
the broken fragment of something; simply because that something 
happens to have lingered out of the past in the place called England; 
in the rather battered form called Protestant Christianity. 

It is as if a local patriot were to venerate the statue of Our Lady 
of Walsingham only because she was in Walsingham and without 
even remembering that she was in Heaven. It is still more as 
if he venerated a fragment chipped from the toe of the statue 



and forgot where it came from and ignored Our Lady altogether. 

I do not think it superstitious to respect the chip in relation 

to the statue, or the statue in relation to the saint, 

or the saint in relation to the scheme of theology and philosophy. 

But I do think it superstitious to venerate, or even to accept, 

the fragment because it happens to be there. And Dean Inge does accept 

the fragment called Protestantism because it happens to be there. 

Let us for a moment consider the whole matter as philosophers should; 
in a universal air above all local superstitions like the Dean's. It 
is quite obvious that there are three or four philosophies or views 
of life possible to reasonable men; and to a great extent these are 
embodied in the great religions or in the wide field of irreligion. 

There is the atheist, the materialist or monist or whatever 
he calls himself, who believes that all is ultimately material, 
and all that is material is mechanical. That is emphatically 
a view of life; not a very bright or breezy view, but one into 
which it is quite possible to fit many facts of existence. 

Then there is the normal man with the natural religion, 
which accepts the general idea that the world has a design 
and therefore a designer; but feels the Architect of the Universe 
to be inscrutable and remote, as remote from men as from microbes. 

That sort of theism is perfectly sane; and is really the ancient 
basis of the solid if somewhat stagnant sanity of Islam. 

There is again the man who feels the burden of life so bitterly 
that he wishes to renounce all desire and all division, and rejoin 
a sort of spiritual unity and peace from which (as he thinks) 
our separate selves should never have broken away. That is the mood 
answered by buddhism and by many metaphysicians and mystics. 

Then there is a fourth sort of man, sometimes called a mystic 
and perhaps more properly to be called a poet; in practice 
he can very often be called a pagan. His position is this; 
it is a twilight world and we know not where it ends. 

If we do not know enough for monotheism, neither do we know 
enough for monism. There may be a borderland and a world beyond; 
but we can only catch hints of it as they come; we may meet 
a nymph in the forest; we may see the fairies on the mountains. 

We do not know enough about the natural to deny the preternatural. 

That was, in ancient times, the healthiest aspect of Paganism. 

That is, in modern times, the rational part of Spiritualism. 

All these are possible as general views of life; and there is a fourth 
that is at least equally possible, though certainly more positive. 

The whole point of this last position might be expressed in 
the line of M. Cammaerts's beautiful little poem about bluebells; 

LE CIEL EST TOMBE PAR TERRE. Heaven has DESCENDED into the world 
of matter; the supreme spiritual power is now operating by the machinery 
of matter, dealing miraculously with the bodies and souls of men. 

It blesses all the five senses; as the senses of the baby are 
blessed at a Catholic christening. It blesses even material gifts 
and keepsakes, as with relics or rosaries. It works through water 
or oil or bread or wine. Now that sort of mystical materialism 
may please or displease the Dean, or anybody else. But I cannot 
for the life of me understand why the Dean, or anybody else, does not 
see that the Incarnation is as much a part of that idea as the Mass; 
and that the Mass is as much a part of that idea as the Incarnation. 

A Puritan may think it blasphemous that God should become a wafer. 

A Moslem thinks it blasphemous that God should become a workman 
in Galilee. And he is perfectly right, from his point of view; 
and given his primary principle. But if the Moslem has a principle. 



the Protestant has only a prejudice. That is, he has only a fragment; 
a relic; a superstition. If it be profane that the miraculous should 
descend to the plane of matter, then certainly Catholicism is profane; 
and Protestantism is profane; and Christianity is profane. 

Of all human creeds or concepts, in that sense, Christianity is 
the most utterly profane. But why a man should accept a Creator who 
was a carpenter, and then worry about holy water, why he should accept 
a local Protestant tradition that God was born in some particular 
place mentioned in the Bible, merely because the Bible had been 
left lying about in England, and then say it is incredible that a 
blessing should linger on the bones of a saint, why he should accept 
the first and most stupendous part of the story of Heaven on Earth, 
and then furiously deny a few small but obvious deductions from it — 
that is a thing I do not understand; I never could understand; 

I have come to the conclusion that I shall never understand. 

I can only attribute it to Superstition. 

-/- 

ON COURAGE AND INDEPENDENCE 

WHEN we are pressed and taunted upon our obstinacy in saying the Mass 
in a dead language, we are tempted to reply to our questioners 
by telling them that they are apparently not fit to be trusted 
with a living language. When we consider what they have done 
with the noble English language, as compared with the English 
of the Anglican Prayer-Book, let alone the Latin of the Mass, 
we feel that their development may well be called degenerate. 

The language called dead can never be called degenerate. 

Surely even they might understand our taking refuge in it, 
by the time that (in the vernacular) the word "immaculate" 
is applied only to the shirt-fronts of snobs; or "unction" means not 
Extreme Unction, but only unctuous rectitude. It is needless to note 
once more how the moral qualities have lost their mystical quality; 
and with it all their dignity and delicacy and spontaneous 
spiritual appeal. Charity, that was the flaming heart of the world, 
has become a name for a niggardly and pompous patronage of the poor, 
generally amounting by this time to the enslavement of the poor. 

But there are more subtle examples of this degeneration in ideal terms. 
And an even worse example, I think, than the cheapening of the word 
CHARITY is the new newspaper cheapening of the word COURAGE. 

Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses 
to write a play or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange 
of compliments in Chelsea and Chiswick and a faint thrill in 
Streatham and Surbiton, is described as "daring, " though nobody 
on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course, 
of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in. 

To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened, 
and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead, 
does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared 
at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had 
the strength to endure it. 

The dramatic critic of a Sunday paper, a little while ago, 
lashed himself into a frenzy of admiration for the "courage" 
of some dismal and dirty play or other, because it represented 
a soldier as raving like a hysterical woman against the cruelty 



of those who had expected him to defend his country. It may be 
amusing that his idea of courage should be a defence of cowardice. 

But it is the sort of defence of it that we have heard ten thousand 
times during the reaction after the War; and the courage required 
to utter it is exactly as great as the courage required to utter any 
other stale quotation from the cant and convention of the moment: 
such trifles as the absurdity of marriage or the sympathetic personality 
of Judas Iscariot. These things have become quite commonplace; 
but they still pretend to be courageous. So sham soldiers have been 
known to swagger about in uniform when the war was over. 

The Catholic Church, as the guardian of all values, guards also 
the value of words. Her children will not fall, I hope, 
into this conventional and comfortable folly. We need not pretend 
that Catholics to-day are called upon to show anything worth 
calling courage, by the standard of the Catholics in other days. 

It did require some courage to be a Catholic when it involved 
the definite disinclination felt by most of us for being racked 
or ripped up with a knife. It did require some courage when there 
was only an intermittent possibility of being torn in pieces by a mob. 
Even that our subtle human psychology regards with some distaste. 

But I hope we do not feel any distaste for being on the opposite 
side to Bishop Barnes, or for being regarded with alarm and 
suspicion by Jix. These things are almost intellectual pleasures. 

Indeed, they really involve a certain temptation to intellectual pride. 
Let us pray to be delivered from it; and let us hope that we 
are not left altogether without occasions for courage. 

But most of them will be present in private life and in other 
practical aspects of public life; in resisting pain or passion 
or defying the economic threat and tyranny of our time. 

But do not let us make fools of ourselves like the rationalists 
and the realists, by posing as martyrs who are never martyred 
or defying tyrants who have been dead for two hundred years. 

But though the name of this virtue has been vulgarized so much that it 
is hard to use it even where it is exact, let alone where it is in any 
case exaggerative, there is a somewhat analogous quality which the modern 
world lauds equally loudly and has lost almost more completely. 

Putting aside the strict sense of a Catholic courage, the world ought 
to be told something about Catholic intellectual independence. 

It is, of course, the one quality which the world supposes 
that Catholics have lost. It is also, at this moment, the one 
quality which Catholics perceive that all the world has lost. 

The modern world has many marks, good as well as bad; but by far the most 
modern thing in it is the abandonment of individual reason, in favour 
of press stunts and suggestion and mass psychology and mass production. 
The Catholic Faith, which always preserves the unfashionable virtue, 
is at this moment alone sustaining the independent intellect of man. 

Our critics, in condemning us, always argue in a circle. 

They say of mediaevalism that all men were narrow. When they discover 
that many of them were very broad, they insist that those men must have 
been in revolt, not only against mediaevalism, but against Catholicism. 

No Catholics were intelligent; for when they were intelligent, 
they cannot really have been Catholics. This circular argument 
appears with a slight difference in the matter of independent 
thought to-day. It consists of extending to all Catholicism 
what are in fact the independent ideas of different Catholics. 

Men start by assuming (what they have been told) that Rome rigidly 



suppresses all variety and therefore Romanists never differ on anything. 
Then if one of them advances an interesting view, they say that Rome must 
have imposed it on him and therefore on all the other Roman Catholics. 

I myself have advanced several economic and political suggestions, 
for which I never dreamed of claiming anything more than that a loyal 
Catholic can offer them. But I would rather take any other example 
than my own unimportant opinions . 

In any case, my own experience of the modern world tells me that Catholics 
are much more and not less individualistic than other men in their 
general opinions. Mr. Michael Williams, the spirited propagandist 
of Catholicism in America, gave this as a very cogent reason for 
refusing to found or join anything like a Catholic party in politics. 

He said that Catholics will combine for Catholicism, but it is quite 
abnormally difficult to get them to combine for anything else. 

This is confirmed by my own impressions and is contrasted very 
sharply with my recollections about most other religious groups. 

For instance, what we called the Free Churches, constituting what 
was also called the Nonconformist Conscience, represented a marvel 
of moral unity and the spreading of a special spiritual atmosphere. 

But the Free Churches were not free, whatever else they were. 

The most striking and even startling thing about them was the ABSENCE 
of any individual repudiations of the common ideals which the Conscience 
laid down. The Nonconformist Conscience was not the normal conscience; 
they would hardly themselves have pretended that the mass of 
mankind necessarily agreed with them about Drink or Armaments. 

But they all agreed with each other about Drink or Armaments. 

A Nonconformist minister standing up to defend public-houses, 
or public expenditure on guns and bayonets, was a much rarer thing 
than a heretic in much more hierarchical systems. It was broadly 
the fact that ALL such men supported what they called Temperance; 
which seemed to mean an intemperate denunciation of temperate drinking. 

It is almost as certain that ALL of them insisted on what they 
called Peace; which seemed, so far as I could make out, to mean 
such weakening of armament as would involve disaster and destruction 
in War. But the question here is not whether I disagreed 
with them; but whether they ever disagreed with each other. 

And one thing is at least certain, that on things of this sort 
they disagreed with each other infinitely less than Catholics do. 

Though the traditional culture and sacramental symbol of the vine 
makes most Catholics moderately favourable to fermented liquor 
in moderation, there have been many prominent Catholics who 
were teetotallers in a degree hardly to be called moderate. 

The great Cardinal Manning startled all his own supporters by the passion 
of this private conviction; just as he startled them by many other 
Radical eccentricities, such as making friends with Stead and championing 
the Salvation Army. Whether he was right is not here in question; 
the point is that he thought he was right when his own religious 
world thought he was wrong, and not unfrequently told him so. 

You would not have found a man in the Salvation Army to defend 
Irish whisky, as you found a man like Father Matthew to denounce it. 

The same facts could be supported by a hundred facts in my 

own experience. Dean Inge observed the other day that Mr. Belloc 

was the only man in England who believed that Dreyfus was guilty. 

He might have added that he was nearly the only man in England 
who knew any of the actual facts of the case, which were suppressed 
in the English newspapers. In any case, the phrase is an exaggeration; 
for several men, like Lord Chief Justice Russell, whom no one will 
call incompetent to judge evidence, and old Harry Labouchere, whom no 



one will call a zealot for militarism, were of the same opinion. 

But substantially it is true that Mr. Belloc, in the days 
of his youth, found himself absolutely alone in almost any 
assembly of English people discussing the question. It is by no 
means the only occasion on which he has found himself alone. 

Merely from my own personal knowledge of him, I could give 
a list as long as this article of topics on which he was opposed 
to everyone else's opinion and sometimes opposed to mine. 

To mention only a few things, large and small, he would probably be 
the only person in a drawing-room saying that Lewis Carroll was overrated, 
that Byron and Longfellow were not overrated, that wit is superior 
to humour, that ALLY SLOPE'S HALF-HOLIDAY was superior to PUNCH, 
that James the Second was chiefly notable as a stolid English 
patriot suspicious of French influence, that an Irish political 
murder might actually be as excusable as a Russian political murder 
(old regime) , that half the modern legislation advanced in favour 
of Labour is part of a plan to re-establish pagan slavery, that it 
is the mark of the Protestant culture to tolerate Catholicism 
and the mark of the Catholic culture to persecute it, and a variety 
of other opinions which would at least be largely regarded 
as paradoxes. And he says such things because he is a Catholic: 
which does not mean that other Catholics would say the same. 

On the contrary, each would say something quite different. 

It is not that they need agree with him; but that he need not agree 
with them. Apart from his own genius. Catholics do differ thus 
more than a company of Anglican public-school patriots or solid 
Liberal Nonconformists; to say nothing of the middle class 
of the Middle West, with its rigid pattern of regular guys. 

Catholics know the two or three transcendental truths on which they 
do agree; and take rather a pleasure in disagreeing on everything else. 

A glance at the living literature, written by other Catholics 
besides Mr. Belloc, will confirm what I say. 

I might take, for instance, a book like the remarkable recent work 
of Mr. Christopher Hollis, "The American Heresy." Now surely nobody 
in his senses will say that all Catholics are bound to believe 
that the Slave States ought to have won the American Civil War, 
that America ought never to have extended westward of Tennessee, 
that Andrew Jackson was a savage, or that Abraham Lincoln was a failure, 
that Calhoun was like a heathen Roman or that Wilson was an arrogant 
and dishonest schoolmaster. These opinions are not part of the 
Catholic order; but they are illustrations of the Catholic liberty. 

And they illustrate exactly the sort of liberty which the modern 
world emphatically has not got; the real liberty of the mind. 

It is no longer a question of liberty from kings and captains 
and inquisitors. It is a question of liberty from catchwords 
and headlines and hypnotic repetitions and all the plutocratic 
platitudes imposed on us by advertisement and journalism. 

It is strictly true to say that the average reader of the DAILY MAIL 
and the "Outline of History" is inhibited from these intellectual acts. 

It is true to say that he CANNOT think that Abraham Lincoln 
was a failure. It is true to say that he CANNOT think that a 
Republic should have refused to expand as it has expanded. 

He cannot move his mind to such a position, even experimentally; 
it means moving it out of too deep a rut, worn too smooth by 
the swift traffic of modern talk and journalism, all perpetually 
moving one way . 


These modern people mean by mental activity simply an express train 



going faster and faster along the same rails to the same station; 
or having more and more railway carriages hooked on to it to be taken 
to the same place. The one notion that has vanished from their 
minds is the notion of voluntary movement even to the same end. 

They have fixed not only the ends, but the means. 

They have imposed not only the doctrines, but the words. 

They are bound not merely in religion, which is avowedly binding, 
but in everything else as well. There are formal praises 
of free thought; but even the praises are in a fixed form. 

Thousands who have never learned to think at all are urged to think 
whatever may take their fancy about Jesus Christ. But they are, 
in fact, forbidden to think in any way but one about Abraham Lincoln. 
That is why it is worth remarking that it is a Catholic who has 
thought for himself. 

-/- 

THE NORDIC HINDOO 

I CANNOT, as some do, find Dr. Barnes a very exciting Bishop 
merely because he is an Evolutionist in the style of fifty years 
ago and a Protestant persecutor in the style of eighty years ago. 

His views are stale enough; but I admit that his arguments 
are sometimes amusing. 

Thus, he reached the last limit of wildness in one remark which he made 
in the course of explaining that the folklore of the Mediterranean 
had been forced upon the Nordic nations — whatever that may mean. 

He added abruptly that Indian and Chinese metaphysics are 
now much more important than ours. But, above all, he made 
the crowning assertion that Rome is thus stamped as Provincial. 

This seems to suggest to the educational mind the construction 
of an examination paper in elementary general knowledge. 

It might run something like this: 

1. From what language is the word "provincial" derived? 

2. To what provinces did it generally refer? 

3. If Athens, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem were provincial towns, 
what was their Metropolitan city? 

4. What reasons are there for supposing that Birmingham occupied 
this Metropolitan position from the earliest times? 

5. Give a short account of the conquest of Southern Europe and 
the Near East by the Emperors of Birmingham. 

6. At what date did the Papacy rebel against the Diocese of Birmingham 

7. Explain the old proverb, "All roads lead to Birmingham." 

8. Discuss the following remark, "The most charmingly Nordic people 
I know are those dear Chinamen." 

9. Why is the folklore of the Hindoos so much more reasonable 
than that of the Romans? 


10. When will the Bishop of Birmingham go touring in the Provinces? 



Answers must be sent in before the time of the Disestablishment 
of the Church of England, and priests are forbidden to give their 
crafty assistance to the candidates. 

Really, I do not know any other way of dealing with even 
a pretence of seriousness with such an extraordinary remark. 

It was rendered even more extraordinary, of course, 

by the further remarks on the subject of Chinamen and Hindoos. 

Now we know all about the Nordic Man, so far as anybody can know 

anything about a person who does not exist. We know, for instance, 
that up to the autumn of 1914 he used to be called the Teutonic Man. 

Dean Inge used to be frightfully fond of him in those days; 

even fonder than he is now. He once quoted lavishly, and still 
quotes occasionally, from that great and glorious English patriot, 

Mr. Houston Stewart Chamberlain. 

We quite understood that all Nordic Men were like gods, having long 
golden hair and gigantic stature; and this made it all the more pleasant 
to realize that we ourselves were Nordic Men, Unfortunately, the were 
even more Nordic and gigantic and beautiful to gaze upon; they said so; 
and they ought to know. The poor Teuton was a little unpopular for 
five years or so; but now he is creeping out again to feel the sun, 
like the kings after Napoleon's fall in Mrs. Browning's poem. 

Like several other people, he changed his name during the War. 

He is now entirely Nordic and not at all Teutonic. And, as it is, 
and always was, his whole profession in life to praise himself 
and exalt the virtue of pride, so much undervalued by Christians, 
it is perfectly natural that he should despise "Dagos" 
and talk about the lower culture of lesser breeds without the law. 

It is natural that he should insist that all Spaniards are cowardly 
bullfighters and all Italians luxurious organ-grinders. He may 
be expected to point out at intervals the sluggish incompetence 
of Napoleon and the impotent languor of Mussolini. 

All this we were used to; it was what we expected from the Nordic Man; 
for nobody ever expected a Nordic Man to face facts staring him 
in the face, or to learn anything even from his own experience. 

We thought we had it all clear and complete, like a mutual understanding 
there was the Nordic Man who was noble because he was Protestant 
and had light hair; and there was the Southern Catholic who was 
a lower sort of animal, because he was swarthy and superstitious. 

But why Hindoos? 0 Venerable Father in God and gentle shepherd 
of souls, why Hindoos? 

Why are we now told to learn from people who are even less 
light-haired and even further off from the Arctic Circle? Are they 
not a lower race, conquered by the earth-shaking Imperialism 
of Birmingham? Are they not a lesser breed without the law? 

Are we to go to Asia to escape from the folklore and magic? 

Do the dear Indians never exhibit any of the errors that deface 
the deplorable Romans? If the Latins are idolaters, do the Indians 
never have idols? If Southern Europe is attached to mythology, 
is Southern Asia a world of pure reason that has never been defaced 
by a myth? 

The explanation, the only explanation that I can suggest, is the one I 
have already suggested; and it is in a simple word; the word despair. 
Everybody knows that when a military campaign begins to fail there 
is an inevitable and even pardonable temptation to every military 
commander on the defeated side to lower the standard of military fitness 



and collect soldiers from anywhere, whatever be their military quality. 
This has happened again and again even among the white races; 
something similar is constantly happening in their relation to the 
other races. So both the Dutch and the English in the South African 
quarrel have been continually tempted to make use of the natives 
for war as well as labour. France has been blamed for relying on 
dark troops; though I never could see why she should be blamed by us, 
who drew dark troops from all over our own Empire. 

Anyhow, it is a process that defeated or embarrassed captains fall back 
upon regularly but often reluctantly. It is a very exact parallel 
to the defeat of the Bishop of Birmingham and his cry for help 
to the Hindoos. He has reached the position in which he will accept 
reinforcements from anywhere except Rome. Rome must be provincial; 
even if it is the only place in the world that is provincial. 

Rome must be barbaric; if all the barbarians of the earth are called 
up to sack the city. 

And when we have reached that point, it is not difficult to see 
that the very invasion and spoliation proclaim it to be a Holy City; 
unique and universal and towering over the tribes of men. 


-/- 

A SPIRITUALIST LOOKS BACK 

WE hear much about new religions; many of them based 
on the very latest novelties of Buddha and Pythagoras. 

But I have come to a conclusion which I fear will offend still more. 

I fancy that all modern religions are counter-religions; attacks on, 
or alternative to the Catholic Church. They bear no likeness to 
the natural pagan speculations that existed before the Catholic Church, 
or would exist if it had never existed. The attitude of Dean Inge 
is certainly much more like that of Plotinus than that of Plato. 

But it is even more like that of Porphyry than that of Plotinus. 

He is exactly like some pagan of the decline; it is not necessary 
for him to know very much about the Christian superstition; 
as soon as he heard of it, he hated it. 

In a recent work, which I have considered in this place, he is careful 
to insist that the word PROTESTANT had an old meaning which was not 
merely negative. And he has certainly fulfilled an old meaning 
that is positive; if the word Protestant means a man who doth 
protest too much. He is so very anxious to explain what he thinks 
about the Catholic Church that he cannot keep it out of any article 
about M. Coue or Monkey Glands. 

The Dean stands by himself; and must be presumably described as 
an Anglican, for want of anything else in particular to call him. 

But it is very interesting to observe that even those who seem 
to go out into the wilderness to stake out their own Promised Land, 
like the Mormons, are eventually found to be as much a mere reaction 
against orthodoxy as the Modernists. Their march towards the new Utopia 
is found to be only a rather longer and more elaborate manoeuvre 
of one of the armies besieging the Holy City. We imagined that these 
new schismatics had finally gone off to pray; but we always find 
(a little while afterwards) that they have remained to scoff. 

They always come back to boo and riot in our churches when they 
have got tired of trying to build their own. 



One who thus reveals all that he does not know, and certainly ought 
to know, is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He broke out the other day 
into a diatribe, which was supposed to begin with the relations 
of his new religion to others, but which turned with incalculable 
rapidity into mere abuse of his old original family religion, 
as if there were no other in the world. 

Perhaps he is right; and there is not. But you would think 
a man fresh from founding a new religion might have a few 
new things to say about that; instead of old and negative 
things to say about something else. But the special strictures 
of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Catholic orthodoxy had a certain 
very curious character, which alone makes them worth noting at all. 

In themselves they are almost indescribably stale and thin and shabby 
and have been thrashed threadbare in a hundred controversies. 

But the odd thing which I want to remark about them is this; 
that they are not only old, but old-fashioned, in the sense 
that they do not even fit into what is now fashionable. 

They had some meaning sixty years ago. They have no meaning 
at all for anybody who looks at the living world as it is — 
even at the world of new faiths or fads like Spiritualism. 

But the Spiritualist is not looking even at the Spiritualist world. 

He is not looking at the human world, or the heathen world, or even 
at the worldly world. He is looking only at the thing he hates. 

For instance, he says, exactly as did our Calvinist great-grandmother 
that the Confessional is a most indelicate institution; and that 
it is highly improper for a young lady of correct deportment, 
in the matter of prunes and prisms, to mention such things as sins 
to a strange gentleman who is a celibate. Well, of course, 
all Catholics know the answer to that; and hundreds of Catholics 
have answered it to Protestants who had some sort of right or reason 
to ask it. 

Nobody, or next to nobody, has ever had to go into so much morbid 
detail in confessing to a priest as in confessing to a doctor. 

And the joke of it is that the Protestant great-grandmother, 
who objected to the gentleman priest, would have been 
the very first to object to a lady doctor. What matters in 
the confessional is the moral guilt and not the material details. 

But the material details are everything in medicine, even for 
the most respectable and responsible physician, let alone all 
the anarchical quacks who have been let loose to hear confessions 
in the name of Psychoanalysis or Hypnotic Cures. But though we all 
know the old and obvious answers, what I find startling is this: 
that our critic does not see the new and obvious situation. 

What in the world is the sense of his coming with his prunes 
and prisms into the sort of society that surrounds us to-day? 

If a girl must not mention sin to a man in a corner of a church, 
it is apparently the only place nowadays in which she may not do so. 
She may sit side by side with him on a jury and discuss the details 
of the foulest and most perverted wickedness in the world, 
perhaps with a man's life hanging on the minuteness of the detail. 

She may read in novels and newspapers sins she has never 
heard of, let alone sins she is likely to commit or confess. 

She must not whisper to an impersonal presence behind a grating 
the most abstract allusion to the things that she hears shouted 
and cat-called in all the theatrical art and social conversation 



of the day. 


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle must know as well as I do that modesty 
of that sort is not being regarded at all by the modern world; 
and that nobody dreams of attempting to safeguard it so strictly as it 
is safeguarded in Catholic conversation and Catholic confessions. 

We can say of Rome and Purity what Swinburne said, in another sense, 
about Rome and Liberty — "Who is against but all her men, and who 
is beside her but Thou?" And yet the critic has the impudence 
to accuse us of the neglect of what all but we are neglecting; 
simply because that charge was used against us a century ago, 
and anything used against us can be used over and over again, 
until it drops to pieces. The old stick of the old grandmother 
is still good enough to beat the old dog with, though if the old 
grandmother could rise from the dead, she would think the dog 
the only decent object in the landscape. 

I mean nothing flippant when I say that the only interesting thing 
about all this is its staleness. I have no unfriendly feelings towards 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to whom we all owe so much gratitude in the realm 
of literature and entertainment, and who often seems to me entirely 
right in his manner of defending Spiritualism against Materialism. 

But I do realize, even if he does not realize, that, at the back 
of the whole business, he is not defending Spiritualism, and not 
attacking Materialism; he is attacking Rome. 

By a deep and true ancestral instinct with him, he knows 
that this is ultimately the one Thing to be either attacked 
or defended; and that he that is not against it is for it. 

Unless the claim of the Church can be challenged in the modern world, 
it is impossible really to set up an alternative modern religion. 

He feels that to be a fact, and I am glad to sympathize with him. 

Indeed, it is because I would remain so far sympathetic that I 
take only one example among the doctrines he denounced; 
and deliberately avoid, for instance, his strangely benighted 
remarks on the cult of the Blessed Virgin. For I confess to a 
difficulty in remaining patient with blindness about that topic. 

But there are other parallel topics. 

He has some very innocent remarks about what he considers 

grotesque in the sacramental system; innocent, because apparently 

unconscious of what everybody else in the world considers grotesque 

in the spiritualistic system. If any Christian service was so 

conducted as to resemble a really successful seance, the world 

might well be excused for falling back on the word "grotesque, " 

a favourite word of Dr. Watson. Indeed, we may well question whether 

the institution of the Red-Headed League or the episode of the Yellow Face 

at the window, or any of the fantasies of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, 

were any more fantastic than some that have been submitted to us 

seriously enough by the school of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

I do not say that this test of external extravagance ought 
to be final, or that no defence of such details could be made. 

But when Sir Arthur deliberately gibes at our ceremonies, we may 
at least be allowed to smile at his. Suppose any Catholic rite 
before the altar consisted of binding a human being hand and foot 
with ropes; should we ever hear the last of the horrible survival 
of human sacrifice? Suppose we declared that the priest went 
into a trance and that clouds of thick white stuff like cotton-wool 
came out of his mouth, as a manifestation of celestial grace; 
might not some of our critics be heard to murmur the word, "grotesque"? 



If we conducted a quiet little evening service in which a big brass 
trumpet careered about in the air and patted people on the head, 
caressed a lady with intimate gestures of affection, and generally 
exhibited itself as about as attractive an object as a philandering 
trombone or an amorous big drum, would not our critics have something 
to say about the unwholesome hysteria and senseless excitement 
of Popery? If the Spiritualist goes out of his way to challenge 
us to a duel in the matter of dignity, I do not really think it 
can be reasonably said that he is on stronger ground than we. 

But I remark on all these charges, not in order to show how they 
recoil upon themselves, but in order to show how the Spiritualist 
is driven to return upon himself, and to react against his origins, 
and to forget all else in making war upon his mother. 

The man of the modern religion does not quarrel with the modern world, 
as he well might, for its neglect of modesty. He quarrels with 
the ancient mother, who is alone teaching it any modesty at all. 

He does not devote himself to condemning the modern dances or 
the fashionable comedies for their vulgar and obvious indifference 
to dignity. He brings his special charge of grotesque extravagance 
against the only ceremonial that really retains any dignity. 

It seems to him, somehow, more important that the Catholic Church 
should be, on the most minute point, open to misunderstanding, 
than that the whole world should go to the devil in a dance 
of death before his very eyes. And he is quite right; at least, 
the instinct of which this is a symbol is quite right. 

The world really pays the supreme compliment to the Catholic Church 

in being intolerant of her tolerating even the appearance 

of the evils which it tolerates in everything else. A fierce 

light does indeed beat upon that throne and blacken every blot; 

but the interest here is in the fact that even those who profess 

to be setting up new thrones or throwing new light are perpetually 

looking backwards at the original blaze if only to discover the blots. 

They have not really succeeded in getting out of the orbit 

of the system which they criticize. They have not really found 

new stars; they are still pointing at alleged spots on the sun, 

and thereby admitting that it is their native daylight and the centre 

of their solar system. 

-/- 

SOME OF OUR ERRORS 

THE thoughtful reader, studying the literature of the enlightened 
and scientific when they advise us about ethics and religion, 
will be arrested by one phrase which really has a meaning. 

Nay, he will observe, with increasing interest and excitement, 
that it really contains a truth. Most of the phrases that are 
supposed to go along with it, and to be of the same sort, 
will be found to be not only untrue but almost unmeaning. 

When the Modernist says that we must free the human intellect 

from the mediaeval syllogism, it is as if he said we must free it 

from the multiplication-table. Some people can count or reason 

quicker than others; some people put in all the steps and are safe; 

some people leave out the steps and are still right; many leave out 

the steps and are consequently wrong. But the process of multiplication 

is the same, and the process of demonstration is the same. 

Men think in that way, except when they escape from it by ceasing 



to think. Or again, when we find in the same context the remark 
that some Christian doctrine which we do know is "only a form of" 
some Pagan cult that nobody really knows, we realise that the 
mathematician is treating the unknown quantity as the known. 

But when we find among these fallacies the remark I speak of, 
we shall be wise to pause upon it with greater patience. 

It is the remark, "We need a restatement of religion"; and though 
it has been said thirty thousand times, it is quite true. 

It is also true that those who say it often mean the very 
opposite of what they say. As I have remarked elsewhere, 
they very often intend not to restate anything, but to state 
something else, introducing as many of the old words as possible. 

By this time not only the word religion, but also the word restatement, 
is becoming rather an old word. But anyhow the point is that they 
do not really mean that we should give freshness and a new aspect 
to religion by calling it roly-poly or rumpti-foo. On the contrary, 
they mean that we should take something totally different 
and agree to call it religion. I mention, with some sadness, 
that I have said this before; because I have found it quite difficult 
to get them to see a fact of almost heart-breaking simplicity. 

It seems to strike them as being merely a fine shade of distinction; 
but it strikes me as a rather grotesque and staggering reversal. 

There would be the same fine shade of difference, if somebody of a 
sartorial sort came to me protesting that my aged father was waiting 
in rags on my door-step, and urgently needing a new hat and coat, 
and indeed a complete equipment; if he made the most animated 
preparations for the reclothing of my parent, and the whole episode 
ended by his introducing me to a total stranger begging for my 
father's old hat. 

Now I do really believe that there is a need for the restatement 
of religious truth; but not the statement of something 
quite different, which I do not believe to be true. 

I believe there is a very urgent need for a verbal paraphrase 
of many of the fundamental doctrines; simply because people 
have ceased to understand them as they are traditionally stated. 

It does not follow from this that the traditional statement is not 
the true statement. It only means that the traditional statement 
now needs to be translated; although translation is seldom true. 

This is especially the case in connection with Catholic ideas; 
because they were originally stated in what some call a dead 
language and some an everlasting language. But anyhow, they were 
stated in a language that has since broken up into other languages, 
and mixed with other dialects, and produced a popular PATOIS 
which is spirited, and often splendid, but necessarily less exact. 

Now I do think that the Catholic culture suffers very much 
from the popular misunderstanding of its original terminology. 

I do think that Catholics are themselves to blame, in many cases, for not 
realising that their doctrines need to be stated afresh, and not left 
in language that is intrinsically correct but practically misleading. 

Those who call themselves liberal, commonly take for granted that the 
fault is with a dead language, as against a language that has developed. 

If they were really liberal, they could enlarge their minds to see 
that there is a case for the language having degenerated. But in 
either case, it is practically true that there are misunderstandings, 
and that we ought chiefly to desire to make people understand. 

And I think we have faults and follies of our own in this matter; and that 
it is not always the fault of our enemies that they misunderstand. 

There are cases in which we, more or less unconsciously. 



misinform them. We do not allow enough, in justifying the words 
that we speak, for the difference in the words that they hear. 

And I propose to say a few words in this article upon what I may call 
Catholic criticisms of Catholic faults; or what are (in many cases) 
merely Catholic accidents and misunderstanding. 

For instance, there is a sort of misunderstanding that is 
simply mistranslation. Probably we have never properly explained 
to them the real case for using Latin for something that must 
be immutable and universal. But as half of them are howling day 
and night for an international language, and accepting a journalese 
jibberish with plurals in "oj" because they can get no better, 
some glimmering of the old use of Latin by Erasmus or Bacon might 
reasonably be expected of them. Of the full defence of such a 
hieratic tongue I may say something later. But for the moment I am 
thinking of certain mistakes which arise very largely by our fault 
and not theirs. It is not the Church's Latin that is to blame; 
it is the English Catholic's English. It is not because we 
do not translate it into the vulgar tongue that we are wrong; 
it is because we do. Sometimes, I am sorry to say, we translate it 
into a very vulgar tongue. When we do translate things into English, 
they often only serve as a luminous argument for leaving them in Latin. 
Latin is Latin, and always says exactly what it means. But popular 
versions of Latin things often only serve to make them unpopular. 

I will venture to take one example, about which I feel very strongly. 

Will somebody with better authority than I have announce in a voice 
of thunder, through a trumpet or with a salute of big guns, 
the vital and very much needed truth that "dulcis" is not the Latin 
for "sweet"? "Sweet" is not the English word for "dulcis"; 
any more than for "doux" or "douce." It has a totally different 
connotation and atmosphere. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" 
does not mean "it is sweet and decorous to die for our country." 

It means something untranslatable like everything that means anything; 
but something more like "It is a gracious thing and of good report to die 
for our country." When Roland was dying in the mountains, having blown 
his horn and broken his sword, and thought of "La doulce France" 
and the men of his line, he did not sully his lips by saying 
"sweet France," but something like "beautiful and gracious France." 

In English the word "sweet" has been rendered hopelessly sticky 
by the accident of the word "sweets." But in any case it suggests 
something much more intense and even pungent in sweetness 
like the tabloids of saccharine that are of concentrated sugar. 

It is at once too strong and too weak a word. It has not the same savour 
as the same word in the Latin languages, which often means no more 
than the word "gentle" as it was used of "a perfect gentle knight." 

But English Catholicism, having in the great calamity of our history 
gone into exile in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (at the very 
moment when our modern language was being finally made) naturally had 
to seek for its own finest enthusiasms in foreign languages. 

It could not find a salutation to the Mass or the Blessed Virgin 
except in French or Italian or Spanish or some such tongue; and it 
translated these things back into a language with which the exile 
had lost touch and in which his taste was not quite firm and sure. 

It seemed to be thought necessary to use the word "sweet" in every 
single case of the kind; which produces not only something that did 
not sound English; but something which did not sound in the least 
as the Latin or French sounded. In a certain number of cases, 
of course, it is exactly the right word; just as it is from time 
to time in ordinary English poetry. Sometimes it is right because it 



is so obviously the natural and inevitable word that it would 

seem more affected not to use it than to use it; as in the song 

of Burns; "My love is like the melody that's sweetly played in tune." 

Sometimes it is right because there is something to be a salt 

to its sweetness, as in Sir Philip Sidney's line; "Before the eyes 

of that sweet enemy France." Similarly it is often exactly 

right in good Catholic translations or compositions in English. 

But this fixed notion that it must always be used wherever some such 
tender expression would be used in Romance literature is simply 
a blunder in translation; and a blunder that has had very bad 
effects in fields much more important than literature. I believe 
that this incongruous and inaccurate repetition of the word "sweet" 
has kept more Englishmen out of the Catholic Church than all 
the poison of the Borgias or all the poisonous lies of the people 
who have written about them. 

Ours is at this moment the most rational of all religions. 

It is even, in a sense, the most rationalistic of all religions. 

Those who talk about it as merely or mainly emotional simply do not 
know what they are talking about. It is all the other religions, 
all the modern religions, that are merely emotional. 

This is as true of the emotional salvationism of the first Protestants 
as of the emotional intuitionalism of the last Modernists. 

We alone are left accepting the action of the reason and 
the will, without any necessary assistance from the emotions. 

A convinced Catholic is easily the most hard-headed and logical 
person walking about the world to-day. But this old slander, 
of a slimy sentimentalism in all we say and do, is terribly perpetuated 
by this mere muddle about words. We are still supposed to have a 
silly sort of devotion, when we really have the most sensible sort, 
merely because we have taken a foreign phrase and translated it wrong; 
instead of either leaving it in Latin for those who can read 
Latin or trusting it in English to people who can write English. 

But if in this case we admit that the misunderstanding is more 
our fault than our opponents' fault, the fault which we confess 
is the very reverse of the fault of which the opponents complain. 

It has not arisen through the Catholic practice of saying prayers 
in Latin. On the contrary, it has arisen through the Protestant 
practice of always saying them in English. It has come through 
yielding merely weakly and mechanically to the Protestant pressure 
in the days when our tradition was completely out of fashion. 

In other words, it has come through doing exactly what they advised us 
to do, and not doing it well. Of course I do not mean that it is not 
a good thing to have good popular translation when it is done well. 

I think it is a very good thing indeed. But while I see what there 
is to be said for the cult of the vernacular, the Protestant 
critic does not see what there is to be said for the fixed form 
of the classic tongue. He does not see that there is something 
to be said even for the general idea that Catholic poetry should 
be in the vernacular like the Divine Comedy and Catholic worship 
in the fundamental language like the Mass. 

It is a question between a dead language and a dying language. 

Every living language is a dying language, even if it does not die. 
Parts of it are perpetually perishing or changing their sense; there is 
only one escape from that flux; and a language must die to be immortal. 
The style of the English Jacobean translation is as noble and simple 
a thing as any in the world; but even there the words degenerate. 

It is not their fault; but ours who misuse them; but they are misused. 
No language could lift itself into a loftier or simpler strain 



than that which begins, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people"; 

but even then, when we pass on to "speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem," 

we stumble over a word we have vulgarised. 

But the world plays havoc with all such words, whether they are 
in the English Bible or the Latin Canon. There are many words 
of Catholic usage which have in practice been thus misused. 

When an outsider hears that a Catholic has refrained from something 
for fear of "causing scandal," he instantly has an irritated 
impression that it means a fear of setting all the silly old women 
in the town talking gossip. Of course it means nothing of the kind. 

It does not mean that in Greek. It does not mean that in Latin. 

It ought not to mean that in English. It ought to mean what it says; 
the fear of tripping somebody up, of putting a stumbling-block 
in the way of some struggling human being. If I encourage to 
carousals a man who must be kept off drink, I am causing scandal. 

If I talk what might be a wholesome realism for some hearers, 
to a young and innocent person who is certain to feel it as 
mere obscenity, I am causing scandal. I am doing what for me 
is right, at the risk of making him do what for him is wrong. 

To say that that is unjustifiable is manifest moral common sense. But 
is not conveyed in modern English by talking about causing scandal. 

All that is conveyed in modern English is that the person so 
acting is disdaining idle chatter and irresponsible criticism; 
which is exactly what all the saints and martyrs have consistently 
lived and died by doing. And that is a good example of what I mean 
by translation; or, if the word be preferred, by restatement. 

But that does not mean turning round and abusing the old statement, 
which was really quite correctly stated. It only means restating 
exactly what the old statement states. 

I could give many other examples of words which were right in their 
Latin use, but which have become obscured in their English misuse. 

I always feel it in the necessarily frequent phrase "offending" God; 
which had originally almost the awful meaning of wounding God. 

But the word has degenerated through its application to man, 
until the sound of it is quite petty and perverted. We say that 
Mr. Binks was quite offended or that Aunt Susan will take offence; 
and lose sight of the essential truth, and even dogma that 
(in that lower sense) God is the very last to take offence. 

But here again we should not abuse the Latin language; 
we should abuse our own vulgarisation of the English language. 

Upon this one point, of the restatement of religious ideas, 
the reformers are right in everything except the one essential; 
which is knowing where to throw the blame. 

-/- 

THE ROOTS OF SANITY 

THE Dean of St. Paul's, when he is right, is very right. 

He is right with all that ringing emphasis that makes him in other 
matters so rashly and disastrously wrong. And I cannot but hail with 
gratitude the scorn with which he spoke lately of all the newspaper 
nonsense about using monkey-glands to turn old men into young men; 
or into young monkeys, if that is to be the next step towards 
the Superman. Not unnaturally, he tried to balance his denunciation 
of that very experimental materialism which he is always accusing us 
of denouncing, by saying that this materialism is one evil extreme 
and that Catholicism is the other. In that connection he said 



some of the usual things which he commonly finds it easy to say, 
and we generally find it tolerably easy to answer. 

For instance, it is a good example of the contradictory charges brought 
against Rome that the Dean apparently classes us with those who leave 
children entirely "unwarned" about the moral dangers of the body. 
Considering that we have been abused for decades on the ground that we 
forced on the young the infamous suggestions of the Confessional, 
this is rather funny. 

Only the other day I noted that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle revived 
this charge of an insult to innocence; and I will leave Dean Inge 
and Sir Arthur to fight it out. And when he charges us with 
indifference to Eugenics and the breeding of criminals and lunatics, 
it is enough that he has himself to denounce the perversion of 
science manifested in the monkey business. He might permit others 
to resent equally the schemes by which men are to act like lunatics 
and criminals in order to avoid lunacy and crime. 

There is, however, another aspect of this matter of being right 
or wrong, which is not so often associated with us, but which is 
equally consistent with our philosophy. And it has a notable 
bearing on the sort of questions here raised by Dean Inge. 

It concerns not only the matters in which the world is wrong, 
but rather especially the matters in which the world is right. 

The world, especially the modern world, has reached a curious 
condition of ritual or routine; in which we might almost say that it 
is wrong even when it is right. It continues to a great extent to do 
the sensible things. It is rapidly ceasing to have any of the sensible 
reasons for doing them. It is always lecturing us on the deadness 
of tradition; and it is living entirely on the life of tradition. 

It is always denouncing us for superstition; and its own principal 
virtues are now almost entirely superstitions. 

I mean that when we are right, we are right by principle; 
and when they are right, they are right by prejudice. 

We can say, if they prefer it so, that they are right by instinct. 

But anyhow, they are still restrained by healthy prejudice from many 
things into which they might be hurried by their own unhealthy logic. 

It is easiest to take very simple and even extreme examples; 
and some of the extremes are nearer to us than some may fancy. 

Thus, most of our friends and acquaintances continue to entertain 
a healthy prejudice against Cannibalism. The time when this next 
step in ethical evolution will be taken seems as yet far distant. 

But the notion that there is not very much difference between 
the bodies of men and animals — that is not by any means far distant, 
but exceedingly near. It is expressed in a hundred ways, as a sort 
of cosmic communism. We might almost say that it is expressed 
in every other way except cannibalism. 

It is expressed, as in the Voronoff notion, in putting pieces 
of animals into men. It is expressed, as in the vegetarian notion, 
in not putting pieces of animals into men. It is expressed in 
letting a man die as a dog dies, or in thinking it more pathetic 
that a dog should die than a man. Some are fussy about what happens 
to the bodies of animals, as if they were quite certain that a rabbit 
resented being cooked, or that an oyster demanded to be cremated. 

Some are ostentatiously indifferent to what happens to the bodies of men 
and deny all dignity to the dead and all affectionate gesture 



to the living. But all these have obviously one thing in common; 

and that is that they regard the human and bestial body as common things 

They think of them under a common generalisation; or under conditions 

at best comparative. Among people who have reached this position, 

the reason for disapproving of cannibalism has already become very vague 

It remains as a tradition and an instinct. Fortunately, thank God, 

though it is now very vague, it is still very strong. 

But though the number of earnest ethical pioneers who are likely 
to begin to eat boiled missionary is very small, the number of those 
among them who could explain their own real reason for not doing 
so is still smaller. 

The real reason is that all such social sanities are now the traditions 
of old Catholic dogmas. Like many other Catholic dogmas, they are felt 
in some vague way even by heathens, so long as they are healthy heathens 
But when it is a question of their not being merely felt 
but formulated, it will be found to be a formula of the Faith. 

In this case it is all those ideas that Modernists most dislike, 

about "special creation" and that Divine image that does not come merely 

by evolution, and the chasm between man and the other creatures. 

In short, it is those very doctrines with which men like Dean Inge 
are perpetually reproaching us, as things that forbid us a 
complete confidence in science or a complete unity with animals. 

It is these that stand between men and cannibalism — or possibly 
monkey glands. They have the prejudice; and long may they retain it! 

We have the principle, and they are welcome to it when they want it. 

If Euclid were demonstrating with diagrams for the first time 
and used the argument of the REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM, he would now 
only produce the impression that his own argument was absurd. 

I am well aware that I expose myself to this peril by extending 
my opponent's argument to an extreme, which may be considered 
an extravagance. The question is, why is it an extravagance? 

I know that in this case it will be answered that the social feature 
of cannibalism is rare in our culture. So far as I know, there are 
no cannibal restaurants threatening to become fashionable in London 
like Chinese restaurants. Anthropophagy is not like Anthroposophy , 
a subject of society lectures; and, varied as are the religions and 
moralities among us, the cooking of missionaries is not yet a mission. 
But if anyone has so little of logic as to miss the meaning of an 
extreme example, I should have no difficulty in giving a much more 
practical and even pressing example. A few years ago, all sane people 
would have said that Adamitism was quite as mad as Anthropophagy. 

A banker walking down the streets with no clothes on would have been 
quite as nonsensical as a butcher selling man instead of mutton. 

Both would be the outbreak of a lunatic under the delusion that he was 
a savage. But we have seen the New Adamite or No Clothes Movement 
start quite seriously in Germany; start indeed with a seriousness 
of which only Germans are capable. Englishmen probably 
are still English enough to laugh at it and dislike it. 

But they laugh by instinct; and they only dislike by instinct. 

Most of them, with their present muddled moral philosophy, 

would probably have great difficulty in refuting the Prussian professor 

of nakedness, however heartily they might desire to kick him. 

For if we examine the current controversies, we shall find the same 
negative and defenceless condition as in the case of the theory 
of cannibalism. All the fashionable arguments used against Puritanism 
do in fact lead to Adamitism. I do not mean, of course, that they 
are not often practically healthy as against Puritanism; still less 
do I mean that there are no better arguments against Puritanism. 



But I mean that in pure logic the civilised man has laid open his guard; 
and is, as it were, naked against the inroads of nakedness. 

So long as he is content merely to argue that the body is 
beautiful or that what is natural is right, he has surrendered 
to the Adamite in theory, though it may be, please God, a long 
time before he surrenders in practice. Here again the modern 
theorist will have to defend his own sanity with a prejudice. 

It is the mediaeval theologian who can defend it with a reason. 

I need not go into that reason at length; it is enough to say 
that it is founded on the Fall of Man, just as the other 
instinct against cannibalism is founded on the Divinity of Man. 

The Catholic argument can be put shortly by saying that there 
is nothing the matter with the human body; what is the matter 
is with the human soul. 

In other words, if man were completely a god, it might be true that all 
aspects of his bodily being were godlike; just as if he were completely 
a beast, we could hardly blame him for any diet, however beastly. 

But we say that experience confirms our theory of his human complexity. 

It has nothing to do with the natural things themselves. 

If red roses mysteriously maddened men to commit murder, we should 
make rules to cover them up; but red roses would be quite as pure 
as white ones . 

In most modem people there is a battle between the new opinions, 
which they do not follow out to their end, and the old traditions, 
which they do not trace back to their beginning. If they followed 
the new notions forward, it would lead them to Bedlam. If they 
followed the better instincts backward, it would lead them to Rome. 

At the best they remain suspended between two logical alternatives, 
trying to tell themselves, as does Dean Inge, that they are merely 
avoiding two extremes. But there is this great difference in his case, 
that the question on which he is wrong is, in however perverted a form, 
a matter of science, whereas the matter in which he is right is 
by this time simply a matter of sentiment. I need not say that I 
do not use the word here in a contemptuous sense, for in these 
things there is a very close kinship between sentiment and sense. 

But the fact remains that all the people in his position can only go 
on being sensible. It is left for us to be also reasonable. 

THE SLAVERY OF THE MIND 

I HAVE chosen the subject of the slavery of the mind because I believe 
many worthy people imagine I am myself a slave. The nature of my supposed 
slavery I need not name and do not propose specially to discuss. 

It is shared by every sane man when he looks up a train in Bradshaw. 

That is, it consists in thinking a certain authority reliable; 
which is entirely reasonable. Indeed it would be rather 
difficult to travel in every train to find out where it went. 

It would be still more difficult to go to the destination 
in order to discover whether it was safe to begin the journey. 

Suppose a wild scare arose that Bradshaw was a conspiracy to produce 
railway accidents, a man might still believe the Guide to be a Guide 
and the scare to be only a scare; but he would know of the existence 
of the scare. What I mean by the slavery of the mind is that state 
in which men do not know of the alternative. It is something 
which clogs the imagination, like a drug or a mesmeric sleep. 



so that a person cannot possibly think of certain things at all. 

It is not the state in which he says, "I see what you mean; but I cannot 
think that because I sincerely think this" (which is simply rational) : 
it is one in which he has never thought of the other view; 
and therefore does not even know that he has never thought of it. 

Though I am not discussing here my own religion, I think it 
only right to say that its authorities have never had this sort 
of narrowness. You may condemn their condemnations as oppressive; 
but not in this sense as obscurantist. St. Thomas Aquinas begins 
his enquiry by saying in effect, "Is there a God? It would 
seem not, for the following reasons"; and the most criticised 
of recent Encyclicals always stated a view before condemning it. 

The thing I mean is a man's inability to state his opponent's view; 
and often his inability even to state his own. 

Curiously enough, I find this sort of thing rather specially widespread 
in our age, which claims to possess a popular culture or enlightenment. 
There is everywhere the habit of assuming certain things, 
in the sense of not even imagining the opposite things. 

For instance, as history is taught, nearly everybody assumes that 
in all important past conflicts, it was the right side that won. 
Everybody assumes it; and nobody knows that he assumes it. 

The man has simply never seriously entertained the other notion. 

Say to him that we should now all of us be better off if Charles Edward 
and the Jacobites had captured London instead of falling back from Derby 
and he will laugh. He will think it is what he calls a "paradox." 

Yet nothing can be a more sober or solid fact than that, when the issue 
was undecided, wise and thoughtful men were to be found on both sides; 
and the Jacobite theory is not in any way disproved by the fact 
that Cumberland could outflank the clans at Drummossie. 

I am not discussing whether it was right as a theory; I am only 

noting that it is never allowed to occur to anybody as a thought. 

The things that might have been are not even present to the imagination. 
If somebody says that the world would now be better if Napoleon had 
never fallen, but had established his Imperial dynasty, people have 
to adjust their minds with a jerk. The very notion is new to them. 

Yet it would have prevented the Prussian reaction; saved equality 
and enlightenment without a mortal quarrel with religion; 
unified Europeans and perhaps avoided the Parliamentary corruption and 
the Fascist and Bolshevist revenges. But in this age of free-thinkers, 
men's minds are not really free to think such a thought. 

What I complain of is that those who accept the verdict of fate 

in this way accept it without knowing why. By a quaint paradox, 

those who thus assume that history always took the right turning 
are generally the very people who do not believe there was any 
special providence to guide it. The very rationalists who jeer 
at the trial by combat, in the old feudal ordeal, do in fact accept 
a trial by combat as deciding all human history. In the war of 
the North and South in America, some of the Southern rebels wrote 
on their flags the rhyme, "Conquer we must for our cause is just." 

The philosophy was faulty; and in that sense it served them right that 
their opponents copied and continued it in the form "Conquer they didn't 
so their cause wasn't." But the latter logic is as bad as the former. 

I have just read a book called, "The American Heresy, " 

by Mr. Christopher Hollis. It is a very brilliant and original book; 

but I know it will not be taken sufficiently seriously; 

because the reader will have to wrench his mind out of a rut even 

to imagine the South victorious; still more to imagine anybody 

saying that a small, limited and agricultural America would have 



been better for everybody — especially Americans. 


I could give many other examples of what I mean by this 
imaginative bondage. It is to be found in the strange superstition 
of making sacred figures out of certain historical characters; 
who must not be moved from their stiff symbolic attitudes. 

Even their bad qualities are sacred. Much new light has lately 
been thrown on Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart. It is not only 
favourable to Mary but on the whole favourable to Elizabeth. 

It seems pretty certain that Mary did not plot to kill Darnley. 

It seems highly probable that Elizabeth did not plot to kill Mary. 

But many people are quite as tenderly attached to the idea 
of a merciless Elizabeth as to that of a murderous Mary. 

That a man devoted to Protestantism should rejoice that Elizabeth 
succeeded, that a man devoted to Catholicism should wish that Mary 
had succeeded — all that would be perfectly natural and rational. 

But Elizabeth was not Protestantism; and it ought not to 
disturb anybody to discover that she was hardly a Protestant. 

It ought to be even less gratification to her supporters to insist 
that she was a tyrant. But there is a sort of waxwork history, 
that cannot be happy unless Elizabeth has an axe and Mary a dagger. 

This sense of fixed and sacred figures ought to belong to 
a religion; but a historical speculation is not a religion. 

To believe in Calvinism by faith alone is comprehensible. 

To believe in Cromwell by faith alone is incomprehensible. 

It is supremely incomprehensible that when Calvinists left off 
believing in Calvinism, they still insisted on believing in Cromwell. 

To a simple rationalist like myself, these prejudices are 
hard to understand. 

-/- 

INGE VERSUS BARNES 

NONE of us I hope ever wished to be unjust to Dean Inge: 

though in such fights the button will sometimes come off the foil. 

And a cruel injustice is being done to him, in the suggestion 
widely circulated that he agrees with Dr. Barnes. Such things 
should not be lightly said of any gentleman. It is in accordance 
with the current legend, at least, that the Gloomy Dean even when 
he comes to bless should remain to curse. But if there is one 
isolated human being whom he can be imagined as wanting to bless, 
one would think it would be his ally. Bishop Barnes of Birmingham. 

And yet the alliance only serves to soften the curse and not 
to secure the blessing. If we may use such popular terms of such 
dignified ecclesiastics, we might be tempted to say that the Dean 
has found it necessary to throw over the Bishop. An interesting 
review by the Dean of the Bishop's recent book of sermons contains, 
of course, a certain number of rather conventional compliments 
and a certain number of rather abrupt sneers, we might say snarls, 
at various other people including the greater part of Christendom. 

But on the two striking and outstanding matters on which Bishop Barnes 
was condemned by the Catholics, he is almost as strongly condemned by 
the Dean of St. Paul's. Dean Inge is far too intelligent and cultivated 
a man to pretend to have much patience with the nonsense about testing 
Transubstantiation either by chemical experiments or psychical research. 
He tries to break it to his Broad Church colleague as gently 
as possible that the latter has made himself a laughing stock. 

But allowing for such necessary politeness between partners, 
it could hardly be stated better or even more plainly. 



He curtly refers the Bishop to the responsible definition of 
the doctrine in Father Rickaby's book on metaphysics; and drily 
observes that it will be found rather more subtle and plausible than 
the Bishop seems to be aware of. He also adds, with a grim candour 
which is rather attractive, that it is pretty disastrous to challenge 
Catholics about whether the Mass does them any spiritual good, 
since they would quite certainly unite in testifying that it does. 

After these frank and arresting admissions, it is a mere matter 
of routine, and almost of respectability, that the Dean should agree 
with the Bishop that all such sacramentalism is very deplorable; 
that the admittedly intelligent people he knows who say they 
have found Christ in the Mass and not in the Morning Service 
must be "natural idolaters" and that it is "obvious" that the 
Blessed Sacrament has an affinity with the lower religions. 

Also with the lower classes. That, I fancy, is what the Dean really 
finds so disgusting about it. 

The point is, however, that the Dean definitely snubs the Bishop on 
the one great point on which the newspapers have boomed and boosted him 
And he does exactly the same thing, if in a lesser degree, 
on the second and lesser matter which was similarly boosted. 

I mean, of course, the matter of Evolution. The Dean, of course, 
believes in Evolution, as do a good many other people. 

Catholic and Protestant as well as agnostic. But though he believes 
in Evolution, he does not believe in Bishop Barnes's Evolution. 

He comments with admirable clarity and decision on the folly 
of identifying progress with evolution; or even mere complication 
with progress. Nothing could be better than the brief and brisk 
sentences in which he disposes altogether of that idealisation 
of the scientific theory, which is in fact simply ignorance of it. 

In plain words. Bishop Barnes, for all his bluster, knows almost 
as little about Evolution as he does about Transubstantiation . 

The Dean of St. Paul's does not, of course, put this truth 
in such plain words; but he manages to make it pretty plain. 

His candour in this case also has to be balanced by general expressions 
of agreement with the Bishop, and somewhat heartier expressions of 
disagreement with everybody else, especially with the Bishop's enemies. 
The Dean alludes scornfully to the orthodox world, as if it necessarily 
repudiated certain biological theories; or as if it mattered 
very much if it did. The difference between the Broad Churchman 
and the Catholic Church is not that the former thinks Evolution true 
and the latter thinks it false. It is that the former thinks Evolution 
an explanation and the latter knows it is not an explanation. 

Hence the former thinks it all important; and the latter thinks 

it rather unimportant. Being unable to grasp this principle, 

the Dean has to fall back on quoting an old Victorian cant phrase; 

and saying that a new scientific discovery passes through three stages: 

that of being called absurd; of being called anti-scriptural; 

and of being discovered to be quite old and familiar. 

He might have added that it generally goes on to a fourth stage; 
that of being discovered to be quite untrue. 

For that is the very simple fact which both Dean Inge and Bishop Barnes 
leave out; and which seems to be as utterly unknown to the more lucid 
rationalism of the one as to the cruder secularism of the other. 

Not only was the Archbishop of Canterbury right in suggesting that old 
gentlemen like himself had been familiar with Evolution all their lives 
but he might have added that they were much more certain of it 
in the earlier part of their lives than they will be by the end 
of their lives. Those of them who have really read the most recent 



European enquiries and speculations know that Darwinism is every 
day becoming much less of a dogma and much more of a doubt. 

Those who have not read the speculations and the doubts simply go 
on repeating the dogma. While Dr. Barnes was preaching sermons 
carefully founded on the biology of fifty years ago, Mr. Belloc was 
proving conclusively before the whole world that Mr. H. G. Wells and 
Sir Arthur Keith were unacquainted with the biology of five years ago. 

In short, it is only just, as we have said, to insist on the difference 
between Dean Inge and Dr. Barnes; which is like the difference 
between Huxley and Haeckel . Everybody would be better and happier 
if Dean Inge were known as Professor Inge; and if Dr. Barnes were not 
only a Professor but a Prussian Professor. Then he could be boomed 
along with other barbarians attacking Christianity, without having 
the ecclesiastical privilege of actually persecuting Christians. 

But there are heathens and heathens and there are persecutors 
and persecutors. The Dean is a pagan Roman of the Senate House. 

The Bishop is a pagan Teuton of the swamps and fens. The Dean dislikes 
the Christian tradition in the spirit of Diocletian and Julian. 

The Bishop dislikes it in the simpler spirit of a Danish pirate 
staring at the rigid mystery of a Roman-British Church. 

Even the common cause and broad brotherly maxim of CHRISTIANI AD LEONES 
did not always, I fancy, reconcile the Roman and the Goth. 

These historical comparisons may seem fanciful; and indeed in one sense 
both parties are very much tied to their own historical period. 

They are both very Victorian; but even here there is a difference 
and a superiority. The superiority of the Dean is that he knows 
it and says so. He is man enough to boast of being Victorian 
and not to mind being called reactionary. Whereas the Bishop seems 
really to cherish the truly extraordinary notion that his notions 
are new and up-to-date. 

Of course they have a philosophy in common; and it would be a cheap 
simplification to call it Materialism. Indeed, we should be almost 
as shallow in talking about Materialism as they are in talking 
about Magic. The truth is that the strange bigotry, which leads 
the Bishop to scream and rail at all sacramentalism as Magic, 
is in its inmost essence the very reverse of Materialism. 

Indeed it is nothing half so healthy as Materialism. 

The root of this prejudice is not so much a trust in matter as a sort 
of horror of matter. The man of this philosophy is always asking 
that worship shall be wholly spiritual, or even wholly intellectual; 
because he does really feel a disgust at the idea of spiritual things 
having a body and a solid form. It probably does really give him 
a mystical shudder to suppose that God can become as bread and wine; 
though I never understood why it should not give the same shudder 
to say that God could become flesh and blood. But whether or no 
these thinkers are logical in their philosophy, I think this is 
their philosophy. It has a very long history and an ancient name. 

It is not Materialist but Manichee. 

Indeed the Dean uttered an unconscious truth when he said 

the sacramentalists must be "natural idolaters." He shrinks from it 

not only because it is idolatrous, but also because it is natural. 

He cannot bear to think how natural is the craving for the supernatural. 
He cannot tolerate the idea of it actually working through the 
elements of nature. Unconsciously, no doubt, but very stubbornly, 
that sort of intellectual does feel that our souls may belong 
to God, but our bodies only to the devil or the beast. 

That Manichean horror of matter is the only INTELLIGENT reason for 
any such sweeping refusal of supernatural and sacramental wonders. 



The rest is all cant and repetition and arguing in a circle; 
all the baseless dogmatism about science forbidding men to 
believe in miracles; as if SCIENCE could forbid men to believe 
in something which science does not profess to investigate. 

Science is the study of the admitted laws of existence; it cannot prove 
a universal negative about whether those laws could ever be suspended 
by something admittedly above them. It is as if we were to say 
that a lawyer was so deeply learned in the American Constitution 
that he knew there could never be a revolution in America. 

Or it is as if a man were to say he was so close a student of the text 
of Hamlet that he was authorised to deny that an actor had dropped 
the skull and bolted when the theatre caught fire. The constitution 
follows a certain course, so long as it is there to follow it; 
the play follows a certain course, so long as it is being played; 
the visible order of nature follows a certain course if there 
is nothing behind it to stop it. But that fact throws no sort 
of light on whether there is anything behind it to stop it. That is 
a question of philosophy or metaphysics and not of material science. 

And out of respect for the intelligence of both these reverend gentlemen, 
and especially for the high intelligence of the Dean of St. Paul's, I much 
prefer to think that they are opposed to what they call Magic 
as consistent philosophers and not as inconsistent scientists. 

I prefer to think that they are thinking along the lines of great 
Gnostics and Buddhists and other mystics of a dark but dignified 
historical tradition; rather than that they are blundering 
in plain logic in the interests of cheap popular science. 

I can even understand or imagine that thrill of repulsion that seizes 
them in the presence of the divine materialism of the Mass. 

But I still think they would be more consistent and complete, if they 
made it quite clear that they carried their principle to completion; 
and said, as the Moslem says about Christmas, "Far be it from Him 
to have a Son, " or the terrified disciples who cried, "Far be this 
from Thee," when God was going up to be crucified. 

-/- 

WHAT WE THINK ABOUT 

I WAS looking the other day at a weekly paper of the sort that is 
supposed to provide popular culture; in this case rather especially 
what may be called popular science. In practice it largely 
provides what its supporters optimistically call Modern Thought 
and what we more commonly call Modernism. It is, however, a paper 
by no means unfair or exclusive of the opposite point of view; 
it has more than once permitted me to reply to these views; 
and in looking at the issue in question, my eye was arrested 
by my own name . 

It occurred in an article on the religious doctrines of 

Mr. Arnold Bennett. Indeed the prominence in the press of this name 

in this connection is one of the standing mysteries of modern journalism. 

I have not only a great admiration for the artistic genius, 

but in many ways a strong liking for the human personality of 

Mr. Arnold Bennett. I like his liveliness and contempt for contempt. 

I like his humanity and merciful curiosity about every thing human. 

I like that essential absence of snobbishness that enables him 
to sympathise even with snobs. But talking about the religious 
beliefs of Mr. Arnold Bennett seems to me exactly like talking 
about the foxhunting adventures of Mr. Bernard Shaw or the favourite 
vintages of Mr. Pussyfoot Johnson or the celestial visions of 



Sir Arthur Keith or the monastic vows of Mr. Bertrand Russell. 

Mr. Arnold Bennett has never disguised, as it seems to me, 
the essential fact that he has not got any religious beliefs; 
as religious beliefs were understood in the English language 
as I learnt it. That he has a number of highly estimable 
moral sentiments and sympathies I do not for a moment doubt. 

But the matter of Mr. Arnold Bennett is, for the moment, a parenthesis. 

I mention it here merely because it was in the course of such 
an article that I found myself mentioned; and I confess I thought 
the reference a little odd. It will not surprise the reader to learn 
that the writer found me less Modernist than Mr. Arnold Bennett. 

My religious beliefs did not present so pure and virgin and blameless 
a blank, but were defaced with definite statements about various things. 
But the writer professed to find something dubious or mysterious 
about my attitude; and what mystifies me is his mystification. 

He delicately implied that there was more in me than met the eye; 
that I had that within, which passed all these Papistical shows, 
but that it was hopeless to vivisect me and discover the secret. 

He said: "Mr. Chesterton does not mean to enlighten us; for all we 
know he is Modernist enough in his own thoughts." 

Now it would be thought a little annoying if an atheist were to say 
of some harmless Protestant Christian like General Booth; "For all 
we know, he is atheist enough in his own thoughts." We might even 
venture to enquire how the atheist could possibly form any notion 
of what General Booth thought, in such complete contradiction 
to everything he said. Or I myself, on the other hand, might seem 
less than graceful, if I were to suggest that Mr. Arnold Bennett must 
be concealing his conversion out of cowardice; and were to express 
it in the form: "Mr. Bennett will never tell us the truth about it; 

for all we know he is Papist enough in his own thoughts." 

I might even be cross-examined about how I had come to form 
these suspicions about the secret thoughts of Mr. Arnold Bennett; 
as to whether I had hidden under his bed and heard him muttering 
Latin prayers in his dreams, or sent a private detective to verify 
the existence of his hair-shirt and his concealed relics. 

It might be hinted that, until I could produce some such PRIMA FACIE 
case for my suspicions, it would be more polite to suppose that 
the opinions of Mr. Bennett were what he himself said they were. 

And if I were sensitive on such things, I might make a rather 
sharp request, that people who cannot possibly know anything about me 
except what I say, should for the sake of our general convenience 
believe what I say. On the subject of Modernism, at any rate, 
there has never been the least doubt or difficulty about what I say. 

For, as it happens, I had a strong intellectual contempt for Modernism, 
even before I really believed in Catholicism. 

But I belong, as a biological product of evolution, to the order 
of the pachyderms. And I am not in the least moved by any annoyance 
in the matter; but only by a very strong mystification and curiosity 
about the real reason for this remarkable point of view. 

I know that the writer did not mean any harm; but I am much 
more interested in trying to understand what he did mean. 

And the truth is, I think, that there is hidden in this curious 
and cryptic phrase the secret of the whole modern controversy 
about Catholicism. What the man really meant was this: 

"Even poor old Chesterton must think; he can't have actually left 
off thinking altogether; there must be some form of cerebral 
function going forward to fill the empty hours of his misdirected 
and wasted life; and it is obvious that if a man begins to THINK, 



he can only think more or less in the direction of Modernism. 
The Modernists do really think that. That is the point. 

That is the joke. 


Now what we have really got to hammer into the heads of all 
these people, somehow, is that a thinking man can think himself 
deeper and deeper into Catholicism, and not deeper and deeper 
into difficulties about Catholicism. We have got to make them 
see that conversion is the beginning of an active, fruitful, 
progressive and even adventurous life of the intellect. For that is 
the thing that they cannot at present bring themselves to believe. 

They honestly say to themselves: "What can he be thinking about, 

if he is not thinking about the Mistakes of Moses, as discovered 

by Mr. Miggles of Pudsey, or boldly defying all the terrors of the 

Inquisition which existed two hundred years ago in Spain?" We have got 

to explain somehow that the great mysteries like the Blessed Trinity 

or the Blessed Sacrament are the starting-points for trains 

of thought far more stimulating, subtle and even individual, 

compared with which all that sceptical scratching is as thin, 

shallow and dusty as a nasty piece of scandalmongering in a 

New England village. Thus, to accept the Logos as a truth is 

to be in the atmosphere of the absolute, not only with St. John 

the Evangelist, but with Plato and all the great mystics of the world. 

To accept the Logos as a "text" or an "interpolation" 

or a "development" or a dead word in a dead document, only used 

to give in rapid succession about six different dates to 

that document, is to be altogether on a lower plane of human life; 

to be squabbling and scratching for a merely negative success; 

even if it really were a success. To exalt the Mass is to enter 

into a magnificent world of metaphysical ideas, illuminating all 

the relations of matter and mind, of flesh and spirit, of the most 

impersonal abstractions as well as the most personal affections. 

To set out to belittle and minimise the Mass, by talking ephemeral 
back-chat about what it had in common with Mithras or the Mysteries, 
is to be in altogether a more petty and pedantic mood; not only lower 
than Catholicism but lower even than Mithraism. 

As I have said before, it is very difficult to say how we can best 
set about these things. We and our critics have come to talk 
in two different languages; so that the very names by which we 
describe the things inside stand for totally different things 
in the absurd labels they have stuck upon the wall outside. 

Often if we said the great things we have to say, they would 
sound like the small things they accuse us of saying. 

A philosophical process can only begin at the right end; 
and they have got hold of everything by the wrong end. 

But I am myself disposed to think that we should begin by challenging 
one very common phrase or form of words; a thing that has become a 
catch-word and a caption; or in the ordinary popular phrase a headline. 
Because the journalists incessantly repeat it, and draw attention 
to it by repeating it, we may possibly draw attention by denying it. 

When the journalist says for the thousandth time, "Living religion 
is not in dull and dusty dogmas, etc." we must stop him with a 
sort of shout and say, "There — you go wrong at the very start." 

If he would condescend to ask what the dogmas are, he would find out 
that it is precisely the dogmas that are living, that are inspiring, 
that are intellectually interesting. Zeal and charity and unction 
are admirable as flowers and fruit; but if you are really interested 
in the living principle you must be interested in the root or the seed. 



In other words, you must be intelligently interested in the statement 
with which the whole thing started; even if it is only to deny it. 

Even if the critic cannot come to agree with the Catholic, he can come to 
see that it is certain ideas about the Cosmos that make him a Catholic. 

He can see that being Cosmic in that way, and Catholic in that way, 
is what makes him different from other people; and what makes him, 
at the very least, a not uninteresting figure in human history. 

He will never get anywhere near it by sentimentalising against 
Catholic sentiment or pontificating against Catholic pontiffs. 

He must get hold of the ideas as ideas; and he will find that 

the most interesting of all the ideas are those which the newspapers 

dismiss as dogmas. 

For instance; the doctrine of the Dual Nature of Christ is in 
the most genuine sense interesting; it ought to be interesting 
to anybody who can understand it, long before he can believe it. 

It has what can be called with all reverence a stereoscopic interest; 
the interest of having the two eyes in the head that create an object; 
of having the two angles in the triangle that determine the third. 

The old Monophysite sect declared that Christ had only the one 
divine nature. The new Monophysite sect declares that He had 
only the one human nature. But it is not a pun or a trick, 
but a truth, to say that the Monophysite is by nature monotonous. 

In either of his two forms, he is naturally on one note. 

The question of objective historical truth is another question, 
which I am not arguing here, though I am ready to argue it anywhere. 

I am talking about intellectual stimulation and the starting point 
of thought and imagination. And these, like all living things, 
breed from the conjunction of two, and not from one alone. 

Thus I read, with sympathy but a sympathy that hardly goes 
beyond sentiment, the studies of the modern Monophysites in 
the life of the limited and merely mortal Jesus of Nazareth. 

I respect their respect; I admire their admiration; I know that all 
they say about human greatness or religious genius is true as far 
as it goes. But it goes along one line; and cannot convince 
like the things that can converge. And then, after reading such 
a tribute to an ethical teacher in the manner of the Essenes, 
perhaps I turn another page of the same or some similar book; 
and come upon some phrase used about a real though a pagan religion; 
perhaps some supposed parallel of what is called a Pagan Christ. 

I find it said, if only of Atys or Adonis, "There was a conception 
that the god sacrificed himself to himself." The man who can read 
those words without a thrill is dead. 

The thrill is deeper for us, of course, because it is concerned 
with a fact and not a fancy. In that sense we do not admit 
that there is any such parallel with the legends of the ancient 
pagans as is implied in the books of the modern pagans. 

And indeed we are surely entitled to call it mere common sense 
to say that there can be no complete parallel between what was 
admittedly a myth or mystery and what was admittedly a man. 

But the point here is that the truth hidden even in myths and mysteries 
is altogether lost if we are confined to the consideration of a man. 

In this sense there is an ironic and unconscious truth in the words 
of the modern pagan, who sang that "the heathen outface and 
outlive us," and that "our lives and our longings are twain." 

It is true of the Modernists, but it is not true of us, who find 
simultaneously the realisation of a longing and the record of a life. 

It is perfectly true that there were in many pagan myths 

the faint foreshadowing of the Christian mysteries; though even 



in saying so we admit that the foreshadowings were shadows. 

But when all imaginative kinship has been explored or allowed for, 
it is not true that mythology ever rose to the heights of theology. 

It is not true that a thought so bold or so subtle as this one 
ever crossed the mind that created the centaurs and the fauns. 

In the wildest and most gigantic of the primitive epic fancies, 
there is no conception so colossal as the being who is both 
Zeus and Prometheus. 

But I only advert to it here, not as arguing its truth against 
those who do not believe it, but only as insisting on its 
intense and intellectual interest for those who do believe it. 

I only wish to explain to those who are worried in this way, 

that a mind filled with the true conception of this Duality has plenty 

to think about along those lines and has no need to dig up dead gods 

to discredit the Everlasting Man. There is no necessity for me 

to be Modernist in my own thoughts, or Monophysite in my own thoughts; 

because I think these views much duller and more trivial than my own. 

In the beautiful words of the love-song in THE WALLET OF KAI LUNG, 
one of the few truly psychological love-songs of the world: 

"This insignificant and universally despised person would unhesitatingly 
prefer his thoughts to theirs." 

Any number of other examples could of course be given. 

This person (if I may use once more the graceful Chinese locution) 
would very soon exhaust the excitement of discovering that Mary 
and Maia both begin with an M, or that the Mother of Christ 
and the Mother of Cupid were both represented as women. 

But I know that I shall never exhaust the profundity of that 
unfathomable paradox which is defined so defiantly in the very title 
of the Mother of God. I know that there are not only far deeper, 
but far fresher and freer developments of thought and imagination, 
in that riddle of the perfectly human having once had a natural 
authority over the supernaturally divine, than in any sort of 
iconoclastic identification which assimilates all the sacred images 
by flattening all their faces. By the time that Christ is really made 
the same as Osiris, there can be very little left of either of them; 
but Christ, as conceived by the Catholic Church, is himself a complex 
and a combination, not of two unreal things, but of two real ones. 

In the same way an Ashtaroth exactly like one of Raphael's Madonnas, 
or vice versa, would seem a somewhat featureless vision in any case; 
whereas there is something that is, in the most intellectual sense, 
unique about the conception of the TEOTOKOS . In short, in all this 
mere unification of traditions, true or false, there is something that 
may be quite simply described as dull. But the dogmas are not dull. 

Even what are called the fine doctrinal distinctions are not dull. 

They are like the finest operations of surgery; separating nerve 

from nerve, but giving life. It is easy enough to flatten out everything 

for miles round with dynamite, if our only object is to give death. 

But just as the physiologist is dealing with living tissues, 
so the theologian is dealing with living ideas; and if he draws 
a line between them it is naturally a very fine line. 

It is the custom, though by this time; already a rather stale custom, 
to complain that the Greeks or Italians who disputed about the Trinity 
or the Sacrament were splitting hairs. I do not know that even splitting 
hairs is any drearier than bleaching hairs, in the vain attempt 
to match the golden hair of Freya and the black hair of Cotytto. 

The subdivision of a hair does at least tell us something of 

its structure; whereas its mere discoloration tells us nothing at all. 

Theology does introduce us to the structure of ideas; whereas theosophical 



syncretism merely washes all the colours out of the coloured 
fairy-tales of the world. But my only purpose in this place is to 
reassure the kind gentleman who was troubled about the secret malady 
of modernity that must be eating away my otherwise empty mind. 

I hasten earnestly to explain that I am quite well, thank you; 
and that I have plenty of things to think about without falling 
back on a Baconian madness of pagan parallels, or establishing 
the connection between the tale of the bull killed by Mithras 
and the tune the old cow died of. 

-/- 

THE OPTIMIST AS A SUICIDE 

FREETHINKERS are occasionally thoughtful, though never free. 

In the modern world of the West, at any rate, they seem always 
to be tied to the treadmill of a materialist and monist cosmos. 

The universal sceptic, in Asia or in Antiquity, has probably 
been a bolder thinker, though very probably a more unhappy man. 

But what we have to deal with as scepticism is not scepticism; but a fixed 
faith in monism. The freethinker is not free to question monism. 

He is forbidden, for instance, in the only intelligible modem sense, 
to believe in a miracle. He is forbidden, in exactly the same sense 
in which he would say that we are forbidden to believe in a heresy. 

Both are forbidden by first principles and not by force. 

The Rationalist Press Association will not actually kidnap, 
gag or strangle Sir Arthur Keith if he admits the evidence 
for a cure at Lourdes. Neither will the Cardinal Archbishop 
of Westminster have me hanged, drawn and quartered if I announce 
that I am an agnostic tomorrow. But of both cases it is true to say 
that a man cannot root up his first principles without a terrible 
rending and revolutionising of his very self. As a matter of fact, 
we are the freer of the two; as there is scarcely any evidence, 
natural or preternatural, that cannot be accepted as fitting into 
our system somewhere; whereas the materialist cannot fit the most 
minute miracle into his system anywhere. But let us leave that on 
one side as a separate question; and agree, if only for the sake 
of argument, that both the Catholic and the materialist are limited 
only by their fundamental conviction about the cosmic system; 
in both thought is in that sense forbidden and in that sense free. 
Consequently, when I see in some newspaper symposium, like that 
on Spiritualism, a leading materialist like Mr. John M. Robertson 
discussing the evidence for spiritualism, I feel exactly as I 
imagine him to feel when he hears a bishop in a mitre or a Jesuit 
in a cassock discussing the evidence for materialism. I know that 
Mr. Robertson cannot accept the evidence without becoming somebody 
quite different from Mr. Robertson; which also is within the power 
of the grace of God. But I know quite well he is not a freethinker; 
except in the sense in which I am a freethinker. He has long ago 
come to a conclusion which controls all his other conclusions. 

He is not driven by scientific evidence to accept Materialism. 

He is forbidden by Materialism to accept scientific evidence. 

But there is another way in which the freethinker is not 
only thoughtful, but useful. The man who rejects the Faith 
altogether is often very valuable as a critic of the man who 
rejects it piecemeal, or bit by bit, or by fits and starts. 

The man who picks out some part of Catholicism that happens to 
please him, or throws away some part that happens to puzzle him, 
does in fact produce, not only the queerest sort of result. 



but generally the very opposite result to what he intends. 

And his inconsistency can often be effectively exposed from 

the extreme negative as well as the extreme positive point of view. 

It has been said that when the half-gods go, the gods arrive; 
it might be said in amiable parody that when the no-goddites arrive, 
the half-goddites go; and I am not sure it is not a good riddance. 

Anyhow, even the atheist can illustrate how important it is to keep 
the Catholic system altogether, even if he rejects it altogether. 

A curious and amusing instance comes from America; in connection 
with Mr. Clarence Darrow, the somewhat simple-minded sceptic of that 
land of simplicity. He seems to have been writing something about 
the impossibility of anybody having a soul; of which nothing need 
be said except that (as usual) it seems to be the sceptic who really 
thinks of the soul superstitiously, as a separate and secret animal 
with wings; who considers the soul quite apart from the self. 

But what interests me about him at the moment is this. One of his 
arguments against immortality is that people do not really believe in it. 
And one of his arguments for that is that if they did believe in 
certain happiness beyond the grave, they would all kill themselves. 

He says that nobody would endure the martyrdom of cancer, for instance, 
if he really believed (as he apparently assumes all Christians to believe 
that in any case the mere fact of death would instantly introduce 
the soul to perfect felicity and the society of all its best friends. 

A Catholic will certainly know what answer he has to give. 

But Mr. Clarence Darrow does not really in the least know what question 
he has asked. 

Now there we have the final flower and crown of all modern 
optimism and universalism and humanitarianism in religion. 

Sentimentalists talk about love till the world is sick of the most 
glorious of all human words; they assume that there can be nothing 
in the next world except the sort of Utopia of practical pleasure 
which they promise us (but do not give us) in this world. They declare 
that all will be forgiven, because there is nothing to forgive. 

They insist that "passing over" is only like going into the next room, 
they insist that it will not even be a waiting-room. They declare 
that it must immediately introduce us to a cushioned lounge with all 
conceivable comforts, without any reference to how we have got there. 

They are positive that there is no danger, no devil; even no death. 

All is hope, happiness and optimism. And, as the atheist very truly 
points out, the logical result of all that hope, happiness and 
optimism would be hundreds of people hanging from lamp-posts 
or thousands of people throwing themselves into wells or canals. 

We should find the rational result of the modern Religion of Joy 
and Love in one huge human stampede of suicide. Pessimism would 
have killed its thousands, but optimism its ten thousands. 

Now, of course, as I say, a Catholic knows the answer; 
because he holds the complete philosophy, which keeps a man sane; 
and not some single fragment of it, whether sad or glad, which may 
easily drive him mad, A Catholic does not kill himself because he does 
not take it for granted that he will deserve heaven in any case, 
or that it will not matter at all whether he deserves it at all. 

He does not profess to know exactly what danger he would run; 
but he does know what loyalty he would violate and what command 
or condition he would disregard. He actually thinks that a man might 
be fitter for heaven because he endured like a man; and that a hero 
could be a martyr to cancer as St. Lawrence or St. Cecilia were martyrs 
to cauldrons or gridirons. The faith in a future life, the hope 



of a future happiness, the belief that God is Love and that loyalty 
is eternal life, these things do not produce lunacy and anarchy, 
if they are taken along with the other Catholic doctrines about 
duty and vigilance and watchfulness against the powers of hell. 

They might produce lunacy and anarchy, if they were taken alone. 

And the Modernists, that is, the optimists and the sentimentalists, 
did want us to take them alone. Of course, the same would be true, 
if somebody took the other doctrines of duty and discipline alone. 

It would produce another dark age of Puritans rapidly blackening 
into Pessimists. Indeed, the extremes meet, when they are both ends 
clipped off what should be a complete thing. Our parable ends 
poetically with two gibbets side by side; one for the suicidal 
pessimist and the other for the suicidal optimist. 

The point is that in this passage the American sceptics 
answering the Modernist; but he is not answering the Catholic. 

The Catholic has an extremely simple and sensible reason for not 
cutting his throat in order to fly instantly into Paradise. 

But he might really raise a question for those who talk as if 
Paradise were invariably and instantly populated with people 
who had cut their throats. And this is only one example out 
of a long list of historical examples; in which those who tried 
to make the Faith more simple invariably made it less sane. 

'The Moslems imagined that they were merely being sensible when they 
cut down the creed to a mere belief in one God; but in the world 
of practical psychology they really cut it down to one Fate. 

The actual effect on ordinary men was simply fatalism; like that of 
the Turk who will not take his wound to a hospital because he is 
resigned to Kismet or the will of Allah. The Puritans thought they 
were simplifying things by appealing to what they called the plain 
words of Scripture; but as a fact they were complicating things 
by bringing in half a hundred cranky sects and crazy suggestions. 

And the modern universalist and humanitarian thought they were simplifying 
things when they interpreted the great truth that God is Love, as meaning 
that there can be no war with the demons or no danger to the soul. 

But in fact they were inventing even darker riddles with even 
wilder answers; and Mr. Clarence Darrow has suggested one of them. 

He will be gratified to receive the thanks of all Catholics 
for doing so. 

-/- 

THE OUTLINE OF THE FALL 

I HAVE remarked on the curious rearguard action of bluff 
that is being fought to cover the retreat of the Darwinians. 

An example of the same thing has appeared in connection with a much 
more famous name; indeed, with two famous names. Mr. H. G. Wells 
has replied to Mr. Belloc, who wrote a criticism of the "Outline 
of History, " chiefly to protest against a certain tone of arbitrary 
generalisation and sham knowledge of the unknown. A typical case was 
that in which Mr. Wells said of the men who drew reindeers in caves: 

"There seems no scope in such a life for speculation or philosophy, " 
and Mr. Belloc not unnaturally answered: "Why on earth not?" 

But the details of the various works in question do not concern 
me immediately here; they mostly depend on that habit of talking 
as if every cave-drawing had its date obligingly inscribed on it; 
or any stone hatchet might bear the inscription 400,000 B.C. 
or possibly, B.O.H., or Before the Outline of History. At the moment 
the only point of contact is that which affects a continuation 



of our previous criticism, touching the present state of Darwinism. 

And what strikes me is that even Mr. Wells, often a sufficiently 
warm controversialist, is relatively and really cold in the matter; 
and his defence of Darwin is much more of an apology than an apologia. 
Indeed, like so many other modem apologies, it almost amounts 
to pleading that Darwin was not a Darwinian. 

The Victorian evolutionists devoted themselves to declaring how great 
Darwin's thesis was. The new evolutionists seem to devote themselves 
to explaining how small it was. They really seem to plead, as in the 
old anecdote, that it gave birth to a theory, but a very little one. 
Some of Mr. Wells's words may surely, without unfairness, 
be called apologetic. He does not, like the professor previously 
mentioned, try to get over the word "origin" by talking about "the 
cause of the origin." So he concentrates on the word "species," 
as if evolution had not only applied to a sub-division. He adds 
that Darwin did not at the beginning even apply it to man. 

What in the world would the Victorian Darwinians have said had they 
heard it urged in defence of Darwinism that it was not applied to man? 
Are we to understand that only the first book of Darwin is 
divinely inspired? Again, Mr. Wells says that natural selection 
is common sense. And doubtless, if it only means that things fitted 
for survival do survive, it is common sense. We may also add 
that it is common knowledge. Has it come to this, that Darwin 
is defended because he only discovered what was common knowledge? 

The real question, of course, is that stated by Mr. Belloc; 

when he said that nobody needs to be told that in a flood fish live 

and cattle die. The question is. How soon do cattle turn into fish? 

That would be an example of the true Darwinian theory; 

and it is now merely minimised, represented as only one element 

of evolution and without even the elements of an explanation. 

We fancy there is a healthy prejudice behind it all. 

Mr. Wells indignantly repudiates the slander uttered by Mr. Belloc, 
who called him a patriot. But it is true; the deep English national 
pride has much to do with this devotion. And rather than deprive 
England of her Darwin, they have deprived Darwin of his discovery. 

When a man is as great a genius as Mr. Wells, I admit it 
sounds provocative to call him provincial. But if he wants 
to know why anybody does it, it will be enough to point 
silently to the headline of one of his pages, which runs: 

"Where is the Garden of Eden?" To come down to a thing like that, 
and to think it telling, when talking to an intelligent Catholic about 
the Fall, that IS provinciality; proud and priceless provinciality. 

The French peasants of whom Mr. Wells speaks are not in that 
sense provincial. As Mr. Wells says, they do not know anything 
about Darwin and Evolution. They do not know and they do not care. 
That is where they are much better philosophers than Mr. Wells. 

They hold the philosophy of the Fall, in the form of a simple story 
which may be historic or symbolic, but anyhow cannot be more important 
than what it symbolises. In comparison with that truth, it does 
not matter twopence whether any evolutionary theory is true or not. 
Whether or no the garden was an allegory, the truth itself can be 
very well allegorised as a garden. And the point of it is that Man, 
whatever else he is, is certainly not merely one of the plants 
of the garden that has plucked its roots out of the soil and walked 
about with them like legs, or on the principle of a double 
dahlia has grown duplicate eyes and ears. He is something else, 
something strange and solitary; and more like the statue that was once 
the god of the garden; but the statue has fallen from its pedestal 



and lies broken among the plants and weeds. This conception 
has nothing to do with materialism as it refers to materials. 

The image might be made of wood; the wood might have come from 

the garden; the sculptor presumably might, and probably did, allow for 

the growth and grain of the wood in what he carved and expressed. 

But my fable fixes the two truths of the true scripture. 

The first is that the wood was graven or stamped with an image, 
deliberately, and from the outside; in this case the image of God. 

The second is that this image has been damaged and defaced, 
so that it is now both better and worse than the mere plants 
in the garden, which are perfect according to their own plan. 

There is room for any amount of speculation about the history 
of the tree before it was turned into an image; there is room 
for any amount of doubt and mystery about what really happened 
when it was turned into an image; there is room for any amount 
of hope and imagination about what it will look like when it is 
really mended and made into the perfect statue we have never seen. 

But it has the two fixed points, that man was uplifted at the first 
and fell; and to answer it by saying, "Where is the Garden of Eden?" 
is like answering a philosophical Buddhist by saying, "When were you 
last a donkey?" 

The Fall is a view of life. It is not only the only enlightening, 
but the only encouraging view of life. It holds, as against 
the only real alternative philosophies, those of the Buddhist 
or the Pessimist or the Promethean, that we have misused 
a good world, and not merely been entrapped into a bad one. 

It refers evil back to the wrong use of the will, and thus declares 
that it can eventually be righted by the a right use of the will. 

Every other creed except that one is some form of surrender to fate. 

A man who holds this view of life will find. it giving light 
on a thousand things; on which mere evolutionary ethics have not 
a word to say. For instance, on the colossal contrast between 
the completeness of man's machines and the continued corruption 
of his motives; on the fact that no social progress really seems 
to leave self behind; on the fact that the first and not the last 
men of any school or revolution are generally the best and purest; 
as William Penn was better than a Quaker millionaire or Washington 
better than an American oil magnate; on that proverb that says: 

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, " which is only what 
the theologians say of every other virtue, and is itself only a way 
of stating the truth of original sin; on those extremes of good and 
evil by which man exceeds all the animals by the measure of heaven 
and hell; on that sublime sense of loss that is in the very sound 
of all great poetry, and nowhere more than in the poetry of pagans 
and sceptics: "We look before and after, and pine for what is not"; 

which cries against all prigs and progressives out of the very 
depths and abysses of the broken heart of man, that happiness 
is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory; 
and that we are all kings in exile. 

Now to people who feel that this view of life is more real, more radical, 
more universal than the cheap simplifications opposed to it, it comes 
with quite a shock of bathos to realise that anybody let alone a man 
like Mr. Wells, supposes that it all depends on some detail about the site 
of a garden in Mesopotamia, like that identified by General Gordon. 

It is hard to find any parallel to such an incongruity; 
for there is no real similarity between our muddled mortal 
affairs and events that were divine if they were mysterious, 
and scriptures that are sacred even if they are symbolical. 



But some shadow of a comparison could be made out of the modern myths. 

I mean the sort of myths that men like Mr. Wells generally do believe in 
such as the Myth of Magna Carta or the Myth of the Mayflower. 

Now many historians will maintain that Magna Carta was really nothing 
to speak of; that it was largely a piece of feudal privilege. 

But suppose one of the historians who holds this view began 
to argue with us excitedly about the fabulous nature of our 
ordinary fancy picture of Magna Carta. Suppose he produced maps 
and documents to prove that Magna Carta was not signed at Runnymede, 
but somewhere else; as I believe some scholars do maintain. 

Suppose he criticised the false heraldry and fancy-dress costumes 
of the ordinary sort of waxwork historical picture of the event. 

We should think he was rather unduly excited about a detail of 
mediaeval history. But with what a shock of astonishment should 
we realise at last that the man actually thought that all modem 
attempts at democracy must be abandoned, that all representative 
government must be wrong, that all Parliaments would have 
to be dissolved and all political rights destroyed, if once it 
were admitted that King John did not sign that special document 
in that little island in the Thames! What should we think of him, 
if he really thought we had no reasons for liking law or liberty, 
except the authenticity of that beloved royal signature? 

That is very much how I feel when I find that Mr. Wells 
really imagines that the luminous and profound philosophy 
of the Fall only means that Eden was somewhere in Mesopotamia. 

Now the only explanation of a great man like Mr. Wells having 
a small prejudice, like this about the snake, is that he does come 
of a religious tradition that regarded the text of Hebrew Scripture 
as the only authority and had forgotten all about the great 
mediaeval metaphysic and the discussion of fundamental ideas. 

The man who does that is provincial; and there is no harm in saying 
so even when he is one of the greatest men of letters and a glory 
to the English name. 

-/- 

THE IDOLS OF SCOTLAND 

THE thing that strikes me most in current controversy is that our 
opponents are talking almost entirely in terms of the past, and that 
an entirely dead past; whereas we are making some sort of attempt, 
whether it be considered impertinent or eccentric or meddlesome 
or paradoxical, to deal with the practical conditions of the present. 

An amusing comedy on these lines seems to have arisen on the subject 
of Scottish Nationalism or the notion of Home Rule for North Britain. 

A worthy Presbyterian has warned his fellow-countrymen that 
the movement is tainted by the presence of Roman Catholics, 
and especially by that of Mr. Compton Mackenzie; and that no 
little degree of the deadly peril is indicated by the fact that 

Mr. Cunninghame Graham is interested in a book by Mr. Belloc; 

in which the hideous sentiment is uttered that the Reformation 
was the shipwreck of Christendom. Personally I should have 
thought it was obvious to anybody on any side, in one solid 

and objective sense, that it was the shipwreck of Christendom. 

I should imagine that it would be obvious to anybody, for instance, 
who desires or even discusses the Reunion of Christendom. 

There certainly was a united vessel or vehicle and it certainly 
did break up into different parts. Some people may think the ship 
was a rotten old-fashioned three-decker that was bound to break up; 
and that the people were lucky who got away from it in boats. 



But it is certain that it did break up and that the boats were 
not the same as the original ship. A man might as well resent 
our saying that the rise of the feudal kingdoms and the modern 
nationalities was part of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. 

This is only one of the marks of such bigotry; but it is worth noting 
at the outset. One of the peculiarities of this sort of bigot is 
that he cannot distinguish between provocative statements and plain 
inevitable statements. If I say that the Reformation was a relapse 
into barbarism, a return to all that was worst in the Dark Ages 
without anything of what was best in them, an idolatry of dead Hebrew 
documents full of visions and symbols without any Daniel to interpret 
the dreams, a stampede of brutal luxury and pride with a vulgar 
howl of hot-gospelling for an excuse, a riot of thieves and looters 
with a few foaming and gibbering lunatics carried in front of it 
like live mascots for luck; the return of the Manichee, the dirty 
ape of the ascetic, conspiring with the devil to destroy the world-- 
if I were to say all this I should think that these remarks 
about Protestantism certainly had a slightly provocative flavour. 

But if I were to say, with Mr. Belloc, that Protestantism was 
the shipwreck of Christendom, I should regard it as an ordinary 
historical statement, like saying that the American War 
of Independence was a split in the British Empire. The bigot 
cannot see the difference between these two types of statement, 
whether made by us or by himself. 

The next interesting thing to note about the protest is that 
the Protestant goes on to say that Mr. Compton Mackenzie and his 
friends are going to ruin Scotland by removing the stern teaching 
of John Knox, which has apparently created the Scottish character. 

This seems a little hard on the Scottish character. 

I cannot quite bring myself to believe that the character of Scott 
or of Stevenson, the character of Burns or Barrie, are exact 
and unaltered reproductions of the stern teaching of John Knox. 

But before we come to any such comparisons, it is worth remarking, 
on the face of the thing that a rather more living world, 
a life more in touch with modem conditions, a grasp of 
the actual problems of the present and the immediate future, 
is rather more indicated by saying the words "Compton Mackenzie" 
than by saying the words "John Knox." Many very modem young men 
have recently joined the same religion as Mr. Compton Mackenzie. 

No such modem young men, that I ever heard of, have ever exhibited 
the smallest desire to go back to the religion of John Knox. As a 
matter of plain fact, there is hardly one modem Scotsman in a thousand 
who has the smallest sympathy with the real religion of John Knox. 

He may vaguely respect John Knox as a Scottish hero, on the supposition 
(quite startlingly false) that he was a Scottish patriot. 

As a matter of fact, the patriotic party in Scotland was the wicked 
Papistical party; Knox and his Presbyterians were all for helping 
the pressure of England and Elizabeth. They would have justified 
themselves by saying that they had the one, true and only 
right religion. The question is, who is left even in Scotland 
who believes that it was the one, true and only right religion? 

I repeat, about one in a thousand; perhaps only a few splendidly 
fanatical old Wee Frees in the Highlands. Anybody who knows anything 
of the Scottish Presbyterian Churches, during the last fifty years, 
knows that the prevailing doctrine taught in them has NOT been 
the severe Calvinism of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
still less the wild Calvinism of the sixteenth. It has been a mild 
hash of Hegelian philosophy and Higher Criticism, all borrowed from 
Germany and carefully learnt by Scotch students in German Universities. 



And anybody who has noticed what the modem Scottish character 
is really like, knows that it does not by this time (thank heaven) 
bear the smallest resemblance to the sternness of John Knox. 

It is rather sentimental than otherwise, though its sentiment finds 
expression in more than one brilliant and admirable man of genius. 

Modern Scotland is not even remotely represented by John Knox. 

It is represented much more accurately, and much more honourably, 
by Sir Harry Lauder and Sir James Barrie. 

This dull habit of invoking dead things, in a world in which we 
are surrounded by more and more interesting living things, 
is the second mark of the sort of bigot I am describing. 

It would be an extremely interesting business to write a real, 
respectful and sympathetic history of the remarkable episode of 
Scottish Puritanism; insisting on its integrity and its intellectual 
vigour while it lasted. But any sincere study of it must conclude 
with the statement that it did not last. One of the most brilliant 
and distinguished of Scottish professors, at Edinburgh University, 
himself of an origin wholly Puritan and of sympathies the very 
reverse of Catholic, used to me the true and forcible expression 
about the old Scottish Sabbatarianism, "It covered all Scotland; 
and then one morning, it had suddenly vanished everywhere like the snow." 
And though the story might be told truly from either standpoint, 
or from many others, it is but natural that we should draw our own 
moral from it. And the moral is, of course, one which we find 
running through the whole of our history. 

The birth and death of every heresy has been essentially the same. 

A morbid or unbalanced Catholic takes one idea out of the 
thousandfold throng of Catholic ideas; and announces that 
he cares for that Catholic idea more than for Catholicism. 

He takes it away with him into a wilderness, where the idea becomes 
an image and the image an idol. Then, after a century or two, 
he suddenly wakes up and discovers that the idol is an idol; 
and, shortly after that, that the wilderness is a wilderness. 

If he is a wise man, he calls himself a fool. If he is a fool, 
he calls himself an evolutionary progressive who has outgrown 
the worship of idols; and he looks round him at the wilderness, 
spreading bare and desolate on every side and says, in the beautiful 
words of Mr. H. G. Wells: "I see no limit to it at all." 

That is what happened to the Calvinistic Scotsman; and the chief 
comfort in the prospect is that the Scotsman is not generally a fool, 
even when he has ceased to be a Calvinist. But he very often becomes 
an atheist; and the fact that so many of the hard destructive sceptics, 
from Hume downwards, came from Scotland, was the early and significant 
evidence of the discovery of the idol and the wilderness. 

But in any case, that is the compact parable of what occurred. 

The Calvinist was a Catholic whose imagination had been in some way 
caught and overpowered by the one isolated theological truth of 
the power and knowledge of God; and he offered to it human sacrifice, 
not only of every human sentiment, but of every other divine quality. 
Something in that bare idea of all-seeing, all-searching and pitiless 
power intoxicated and exalted certain men for a certain period, as certain 
men are intoxicated by a storm of wind or some terrible stage tragedy. 

The more moderate Protestants, the Anglicans and to a large extent 
the Lutherans, had something of the same queer feeling about the King. 
Hence came the Cavalier doctrine of Divine Right — and the court 
chaplains of Prussia. Nothing is more intriguing and challenging 
to the imagination than the necessity of trying to understand how men 



in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries felt a sort of 
abstract altruistic joy in the mere might and triumph of the Prince; 
in the mere autocracy of the earthly ruler. The Calvinists, 
to do them justice, felt it only about the heavenly ruler. 

In that sense the Scots can look proudly back on their Calvinism. 

But they cannot look proudly forward to Calvinism. They really know, 
as well as anybody else, that this isolated religious idea can no longer 
be kept separate from all the other religious ideas to which it belongs. 
The Calvinism of the Puritan is as dead as the Divine Right of 
the Cavaliers; men can no longer worship the idol, whether it is 
Presbyterianism or Erastianism. They can only worship the wilderness; 
which is atheism — or, as the more polite say, pantheism. 

Whether it be called a Catholic tendency or no, all the movements 
of all the sects of late have been in the direction of trying to put 
together again those separate pieces that were pulled apart in the 
sixteenth century. The main feature of our time has been the fact 
that one person after another has recovered one piece after another, 
and added it to the new scheme by borrowing it from the old. 

There is one sufficient proof that there has indeed been a shipwreck. 

And that is that Robinson Crusoe has, ever since, been continually 
going back to get things from the wreck. 

-/- 

IF THEY HAD BELIEVED 

ONE of the things our enemies do not know is the real case for their 
own side. It is always for me a great matter of pride that the proudest, 
the most genuine and the most unanswerable boast, that the Protestants 
of England could ever make, was made for them by a Catholic. 

Very few of the Protestants, of his time at any rate, would have 
had the historical enlargement or enlightenment to make it. 

For it was said by Newman, when that great master of English 
was surveying the glorious triumphs of our tongue from Bacon 
and Milton, to Swift and Burke, and he reminded us firmly that, 
though we convert England to the true faith a thousand times over, 
"English literature will always have been Protestant." 

That generous piece of candour might well be represented as even 
too generous; but I think it is very wise for us to be too generous. 

It is not entirely, or at least not exclusively true. 

The name of Chaucer is alone enough to show that English literature 
was English a long time before it was Protestant. Even a Protestant, 
if he were also English, could ask for nobody more entirely 
English than Chaucer. He was, in the essential national temper, 
very much more English than Milton. As a matter of fact, 
the argument is no stronger for Chaucer than it is for Shakespeare. 

But in the case of Shakespeare the argument is long and complicated, 
as conducted by partisans; though sufficiently simple and direct 
for people with a sense of reality. I believe that recent discoveries, 
as recorded in a book by a French lady, have very strongly confirmed 
the theory that Shakespeare died a Catholic. But I need no books 
and no discoveries to prove to me that he had lived a Catholic, 
or more probably, like the rest of us, tried unsuccessfully 
to live a Catholic; that he thought like a Catholic and felt 
like a Catholic and saw every question as a Catholic sees it. 

The proofs of this would be matter for a separate essay; 
if indeed so practical an impression can be proved at all. 

It is quite self-evident to me that he was a certain real 
and recognisable Renaissance type of Catholic; like Cervantes; 



like Ronsard. But if I were asked offhand for a short explanation, 

I could only say that I know he was a Catholic from the passages 
which are now used to prove he was an agnostic. 

But that is another and much more subtle question, which is 
not the question I proposed to myself in starting this essay. 

In starting it, I proposed to grant the whole sound and solid truth 
of Newman's admission; that there has indeed arisen out of the disunion 
of Europe a great and glorious English Protestant literature; 
and to make some further speculations upon the point. 

And I think that nothing could make clearer to the modern English, 
the one supreme thing that they don't know (which is what our 
religion really is and why we think it real) than to put this 
rather interesting historical question. What difference would 
it have made to the great masters of English literature, if they 
had been Catholics? 

Of course, the question cannot be strictly and scientifically answered; 
because nobody knows what difference would be made to 
anybody by any change in the circumstances of his life. 

But taking the matter broadly, as a question of ideas or even 
of doctrines it is worth asking as a matter of religious history. 

How far did the great Protestant writers depend on Protestantism? 

I have no intention of discussing it adequately here; and indeed 
this is not so much an essay as an essay to suggest an essay. 

It is, in fact, a delicate indication, to people more learned than myself 
that I am in possession of a very good title and subject for an essay. 

But at least it will be safe to say that the common or conventional 
impression among English people on this point is wildly wrong. 

It is wrong because it imagines that purely Protestant ideas 
were in some vague way the same as liberal and emancipated ideas. 

And it is wrong in a more special sense, because it is founded on the 
utterly false history, which supposes that the Renaissance was the same 
as the Reformation. It would be very difficult to say what English 
literature owes to the Reformation as distinct from the Renaissance. 

There is the splendid sincerity that inspired the plain English of Bunyan 
but even Bunyan was a sort of exception that proved the rule. 

He was a Puritan; but he was emphatically not a Puritan of the Puritans. 
He was a man actually suspected by his fellow Puritans, because he was 
not so much a Puritan as a Christian. It was remarked at the time, 
and it has often been remarked since, that his theory is not 
very sectarian by the standard of seventeenth century sects. 

Among the Calvinists he was so much of a moderate, that thousands must 
have read his great book without thinking about Calvinism at all. 

And if we take the great scenes in his great book, the battle with 
Apollyon, the Mission of Greatheart, the death of Valiant-f or-the-Truth, 
when all the trumpets sounded on the other side — there is really no 
reason whatever why they should not have been written by a Catholic. 

I do not affirm that they would have been written by a Catholic, 
if the course of history had left the common people Catholics; 
for that is a question which nobody can possibly answer one way 
or the other. But I am speaking strictly of doctrines in their 
relation to ideas and images; and there is no possible reason why 
a Catholic should be prevented by his Catholicism from writing such 
a story of the pilgrimage of Man and the fight to attain to God. 

Milton in one way is an even stronger case; since he had much 
more in him of Shakespeare and the Catholic Renaissance. 

And I really cannot think of any deep difference that it would 



have made to his poetry, as poetry, if he had followed other members 
of his family in the old faith; I do not see that he need have 
been much altered, except possibly by being a much jollier man. 

Many will not realise this, because they insist on regarding 
artistic and intellectual freedom as something that was closed 
to the Catholic countries and open only to the Protestant. 

But all history is in flat contradiction to this view. The tide 
of culture in the seventeenth century flowed from France to England, 
not from England to France. Milton might have been as central as 
Moliere and still remained a Catholic man in a Catholic atmosphere. 
Descartes the Catholic was more truly than Bacon the Protestant, 
the PHILOSOPHER of rationalist science. The experiments, 
the new forms, the great names in criticism and philosophy, 
appeared during the last two or three centuries quite as much 
in the Catholic countries as in the Protestant, if not rather more. 
England could have produced a great English literature, 
as France produced a great French literature, without any change 
in the ancient European religion. 

The real test case, to be considered in some such essay, 

would be a case like that of Cowper. There you do most emphatically 

have the Protestant theology; and there you do most emphatically 

have the English poetry. But the two have precious little to do 

with each other; until the coming of that dark hour when the theology 

destroyed the poetry. Poor Cowper 's Calvinism drove him mad; 

and only his poetry managed for some time to keep him sane. 

But there was nothing whatever either in the poetry or the 
sanity that could have prevented him from being a Catholic. 

On the contrary, he was exactly the sort of man who would have been 
very happy as a Catholic. He was the sort of man to have been 
devoted to the memory of St. Francis, if he had ever heard of him; 
and there was nothing to prevent the one any more than the other 
from keeping pet birds or stroking wild hares out of the woods. 

It was the brutal blow of Calvin, two centuries before, that broke 
the heart of that natural saint; and it is not the least of his crimes. 

After the time of Cowper, there does indeed begin to appear another 
type of difficulty; but it is not the presence but rather the absence 
of Protestant theology. There were elements even in Burns and Byron, 
there were still more elements in Shelley and Swinburne, which would 
doubtless have been at issue with their Catholic tradition, 
if they had had it. But it would not have been a revolt against 
Catholicism half so much as it was a revolt against Protestantism. 

In so far as they tended to mere scepticism, they could have found their 
way to it more quickly from reading Rabelais and Montaigne in a Catholic 
country than from reading Shakespeare and Milton in a Protestant one. 

As soon as the Revolution has begun, in a sense as soon as 
the Romantic Movement has begun, the positive Puritan theology 
is left behind even more completely than the mediaeval theology. 

Indeed the Romantics did develop a faint and hazy sympathy, 
if not with mediaeval theology, at least with mediaeval religion. 

It is true that Byron or Hugo probably preferred an abbey 

to be a ruined abbey; but they would not have visited a Baptist 

chapel even for the pleasure of seeing it ruined. It is true 

that Scott advised us to see mediaeval Melrose by moonlight; 

with the delicate implication that the mediaeval religion was moonshine. 

But he would not in any case have wanted to see Exeter Hall by gaslight; 

and he would have thought its theology not moonshine but gas. 

The tributes which he occasionally forces himself to make to the official 
Puritanism of his own country are, it will be generally agreed. 



the most sullen and insincere words to be found in his works. 

On the negative side, therefore, the conclusion is altogether negative 
It is very difficult to find, at least after the doubtful case 
of Bunyan and the deadly case of Cowper, anything that can 
be called a purely literary inspiration coming from the purely 
Protestant doctrines. There is plenty of inspiration coming more 
or less indirectly from Paganism; but after the first excitement, 
hardly any from Protestantism. 

If this is true on the negative side, it is even truer on 
the positive side. I take it that the imaginative magnificence of 
Milton's epic, in such matters as the War in Heaven, would have been 
much more convincing, if it had been modelled more on the profound 
mediaeval mysteries about the nature of angels and archangels, 
and less on the merely fanciful Greek myths about giants and gods. 
PARADISE LOST is an immortal poem; but it has just failed 
to be an immortal religious poem. Those are most happy 
in reading Milton who can read him as they would read Hesiod. 

It is doubtful whether those seeking spiritual satisfaction 
now read him even as naturally as they would read Crashaw. 

I suppose nobody will dispute that the pageantry of Scott might have 
taken on a tenfold splendour if he could have understood the emblems 
of an everlasting faith as sympathetically as he did the emblems 
of a dead feudalism. For him it was the habit that made the monk; 
but the habit would have been quite as picturesque if there 
had been a real monk inside it; let alone a real mind inside 
the monk, like the mind of St. Dominic or St. Hugh of Lincoln. 

"English literature will always have been Protestant"; but it 
might have been Catholic; without ceasing to be English literature, 
and perhaps succeeding in producing a deeper literature and 
a happier England. 

-/- 

PEACE AND THE PAPACY 

THERE is a famous saying which to some has seemed lacking in reverence 
though in fact it is a support of one important part of religion; 

"If God had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent Him." 
It is not at all unlike some of the daring questions with which 
St. Thomas Aquinas begins his great defence of the faith. 

Some of the modern critics of his faith, especially the Protestant 
critics of it, have fallen into an amusing error, chiefly through 
ignorance of Latin and of the old use of the word DIVUS, 
and have accused Catholics of describing the Pope as God. 

Catholics, I need not say, are about as likely to call the Pope God 
as to call a grasshopper the Pope. But there is a sense in which 
they do recognise an eternal correspondence between the position 
of the King of Kings in the universe and of his Viceroy in the world, 
like the correspondence between a real thing and its shadow; 
a similarity something like the damaged and defective similarity 
between God and the image of God. And among the coincidences 
of this comparison may be classed the case of this epigram. 

The world will more and more find itself in a position in which 
even politicians and practical men will find themselves saying, 

"If the Pope had not existed, it would be necessary to invent him." 

It is not at all impossible that they may really try to invent him. 

The truth is that multitudes of them would already accept the Pope 
if he were not called the Pope. I firmly believe that it would 



be quite possible, in this and many other matters, to play a sort 
of pious practical joke on large numbers of heretics and heathens. 

I fancy it would be quite feasible to describe in accurate 

but abstract terms the general idea of an office or obligation, 

which would exactly correspond to the position of the Papacy 

in history, and which would be accepted on ethical and social ground 

by numbers of Protestants and free-thinkers; until they discovered 

with a reaction of rage and astonishment that they had been 

entrapped into accepting the international arbitration of the Pope. 

Suppose somebody were to advance the old idea as if it were 

a new idea; suppose he were to say; "I propose that there be 

erected in some central city in the more civilised part of our 

civilisation the seat of a permanent official to represent peace 

and the basis of agreement among all the surrounding nations; 

let him be by the nature of his post set apart from them all and yet 

sworn to consider the rights and wrongs of all; Let him be put there 

as a judge to expound an ethical law and system of social relations; 

let him be of a certain type and training different from that 

which encourages the ordinary ambitions of military glory or even 

the ordinary attachments of tribal tradition; let him be protected 

by a special sentiment from the pressure of kings and princes; 

let him be sworn in a special manner to the consideration of men as men. 

There are not a few already, and there will soon be many more, 

who would be perfectly capable of proposing such an ideal international 

institution on their own account; there are also many who would really, 

in their innocence, suppose that it had never been attempted before. 

It is true that as yet large numbers of such social reformers would 
shrink from the idea of the institution being an individual. 

But even that prejudice is weakening under the wear and tear of real 
political experience. We may be attached, as many of us are, 
to the democratic ideal; but most of us have already realised 
that direct democracy, the only true democracy which satisfies 
a true democrat, is a thing applicable to some things and not others; 
and not applicable at all to a question such as this. The actual 
speaking voice of a vast international civilisation, or of a vast 
international religion, will not in any case be the actual articulate 
distinguishable voices or cries of all the millions of the faithful. 

It is not the people who would be the heirs of a dethroned Pope; 
it is some synod or bench of bishops. It is not an alternative 
between monarchy and democracy, but an alternative between monarchy 
and oligarchy. And, being myself one of the democratic idealists, 

I have not the faintest hesitation in my choice between the two latter 
forms of privilege. A monarch is a man; but an oligarchy is not men; 
it is a few men forming a group small enough to be insolent 
and large enough to be irresponsible. A man in the position 
of a Pope, unless he is literally mad, must be responsible. 

But aristocrats can always throw the responsibility on each other; 
and yet create a common and corporate society from which 
is shut out the very vision of the rest of the world. 

These are conclusions to which many people in the world are coming; 
and many who would still be much astonished and horrified to find 
where those conclusions lead. But the point here is that even 
if our civilisation does not rediscover the need of a Papacy, 
it is extremely likely that sooner or later it will try to supply 
the need of something like a Papacy; even if it tries to do it 
on its own account. That will be indeed an ironical situation. 

The modern world will have a set up a new Anti-Pope, even if, 
as in Monsignor Benson's romance, the Anti-Pope has rather 
the character of an Antichrist. 



The point is that men will attempt to put some sort of moral power 
out of the reach of material powers. It is the weakness of many 
worthy and well-meaning attempts at international justice just now, 
that the international council can hardly help being merely 
a microcosm or model of the world outside it, with all its little 
things and big things, including the things that are much too big. 
Suppose that in the international interchanges of the future some powe 
say Sweden, is felt to be disproportionate or problematical. 

If Sweden is powerful in Europe, she will be powerful in the council 
of Europe. If Sweden is too powerful in Europe, she will be too 
powerful in the council of Europe. And because she is the very 
thing that is irresistible, she is the very thing to be resisted; 
or at any rate to be restrained. I do not see how Europe can ever 
escape from that logical dilemma, except by discovering again 
an authority that is purely moral and is the recognised custodian 
of a morality. It may very reasonably be said that even those 
dedicated to that duty may not always practise what they profess. 

But the other rulers of the world are not even bound to profess it. 

Again and again in history, especially in mediaeval history, 

the Papacy has intervened in the interests of peace and humanity; 

just as the greatest saints have thrown themselves between 

the swords and daggers of contending factions. But if there 

had been no Papacy and no saints and no Catholic Church at all, 

the world left to itself would certainly not have substituted social 

abstractions for theological creeds. As a whole, humanity has 

been far from humanitarian. If the world had been left to itself, 

let us say in the age of feudalism, all the decisions would 

have been rigidly and ruthlessly on the lines of feudalism. 

There was only one institution in that world that had existed 

before feudalism. There was only one institution which could possibly 

carry on some faint memory of the Republic and the Roman Law. 

If the world had been left to itself in the time of the Renaissance 
and the Italian statecraft of the Prince, it would have been arranged 
entirely in the current fashion of the glorification of princes. 

There was only one institution that could at any moment be moved 
to repeat, "Put not your trust in princes." Had it been absent, 
the only result would have been that the famous settlement of 
CUJUS REG 10 E JUS RELIGIO would have been all REGIO with precious 
little RELIGIO. And so, of course, our own day has its unconscious 
dogmas and its universal prejudices; and it needs a special, 
a sacred and what seems to many an inhuman separation to stand 
above them or to see beyond. 

I know that this ideal has been abused like any other; I only 
say that even those who most denounce the reality will probably 
begin again to search for the ideal. But I do not, in fact, 
propose that any such spiritual tribunal should act like a legal 
tribunal or be given powers of practical interference with normal 
and national government. I am quite sure, for one thing, 
that it would never accept any such material entanglement. 

Nor do I, for that matter, desire that any of the secular tribunals 
now set up in the interests of international peace should thus 
have the power to interfere with nationality and local liberty. 

I would much rather give such power to a pope than to politicians 
and diplomatists of the sort to whom the world is giving it. 

But I do not want to give it to anybody and the authority in question 
does not want to accept it from anybody. The thing of which I speak 
is purely moral and cannot exist without a certain moral loyalty; 



it is a thing of atmosphere and even in a sense of affection. 

There is no space to describe here the manner in which such 
a general popular attachment grows up; but there is no doubt 
whatever that it did once grow up round such a religious 
centre of our civilisation; and that it is not likely to grow 
up again except for something which aims at a higher standard 
of humility and charity than the ordinary standard of the world. 

Men cannot have an affection for other people's emperors, 
or even for other people's politicians; they have sometimes been 
known to cool in affection even for their own politicians. 

I see no prospect of any such positive nucleus of amity except in some 
positive enthusiasm for something that moves the deepest parts of man's 
moral nature; something which can unite us not (as the prigs say) 
by being entirely international, but by being universally human. 

Men cannot agree about nothing any more than they can disagree 
about nothing. And anything wide enough to make such an agreement 
must itself be wider than the world. 

-/- 

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS 

I HAVE rather rashly undertaken to write of the Spirit of Christmas; 
and it presents a preliminary difficulty about which I must be candid. 
People are very curious nowadays in their way of talking 
about "the spirit" of a thing. There is, for example, 
a particular sort of prig who is always lecturing us about having 
the spirit of true Christianity, apart from all names and forms. 

As far as I can make out, he means the very opposite of what he says. 

He means that we are to go on using the names "Christian" 
and "Christianity, " and so on, for something in which it is quite 
specially the spirit that is not Christian; something that is a sort 
of combination of the baseless optimism of an American atheist 
with the pacifism of a mild Hindoo. In the same way, we read 
a great deal about the Spirit of Christmas in modem journalism 
or commercialism; but it is really a reversal of the same kind. 

So far from preserving the essentials without the externals, it is 
rather preserving the externals where there cannot be the essentials. 

It means taking two mere material substances, like holly and mistletoe, 
and spreading them all over huge and homeless cosmopolitan hotels 
or round the Doric columns of impersonal clubs full of jaded 
and cynical old gentlemen; or in any other place where the actual 
spirit of Christmas is least likely to be. But there is also 
another way in which modem commercial complexity eats out the heart 
of the thing, while actually leaving the painted shell of it. 

And that is the much too elaborate system of dependence on buying 
and selling, and therefore on bustle and hustle; and the actual 
neglect of the new things that might be done by the old Christmas. 

Normally, if anything were normal nowadays, it would seem a truism to s 
that Christmas has been a family festival. But it is now possible 
(as I have had the good or bad luck to discover) to earn a reputation 
for paradox simply by going on saying that truisms are true. 

In this case, of course, the reason, the only reasonable reason, 
was religious. It was concerned with a happy family because it 
was consecrated to the Holy Family. But it is perfectly true 
that many men saw the fact without specially feeling the reason. 

When we say the root was religious, we do not mean that Sam Weller 
was concentrated on theological values when he told the Fat Boy 
to "put a bit of Christmas," into some object, probably edible. 



We do not mean that the Fat Boy had gone into a trance of mystical 
contemplation like a monk seeing a vision. We do not even mean 
that Bob Cratchit defended punch by saying he was only looking 
on the wine when it was yellow; or that Tiny Tim quoted Timothy. 

We only mean that they, including their author, would have confessed 
humbly and heartily that there was someone historically quite anterior 
to Mr. Scrooge, who might be called the Founder of the Feast. 

But in any case, whatever the reason, all would have agreed about 
the result. Mr. Wardle ' s feast centred in Mr. Wardle's family; 
and none the less because the romantic shadows of Mr. Winkle 
and Mr. Snodgrass threatened to break it up for the formation 
of other families. 

The Christmas season is domestic; and for that reason most people 
now prepare for it by struggling in tramcars, standing in queues, 
rushing away in trains, crowding despairingly into tea-shops, 
and wondering when or whether they will ever get home. 

I do not know whether some of them disappear for ever in the toy 
department or simply lie down and die in the tea-rooms; but by 
the look of them, it is quite likely. Just before the great festival 
of the home the whole population seems to have become homeless. 

It is the supreme triumph of industrial civilisation that, 
in the huge cities which seem to have far too many houses, 
there is a hopeless shortage of housing. For a long time past 
great numbers of our poor have become practically nomadic. 

We even confess the fact; for we talk of some of them as Street Arabs. 
But this domestic institution, in its present ironical phase, 
has gone beyond such normal abnormality. The feast of the 
family turns the rich as well as the poor into vagabonds. 

They are so scattered over the bewildering labyrinth of our traffic 
and our trade, that they sometimes cannot even reach the tea-shop; 
it would be indelicate, of course, to mention the tavern. 

They have a difficulty in crowding into their hotels, let alone 
separating to reach their houses. I mean quite the reverse 
of irreverence when I say that their only point of resemblance 
to the archetypal Christmas family is that there is no room for them 
at the inn. 

Now Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; 
that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home. 

But the other sort of paradox is not intentional and is certainly 
not beautiful. It is bad enough that we cannot altogether 
disentangle the tragedy of poverty. It is bad enough that the birth 
of the homeless, celebrated at hearth and altar, should sometimes 
synchronise with the death of the homeless in workhouses and slums. 

But we need not rejoice in this universal restlessness brought upon 
rich and poor alike; and it seems to me that in this matter we need 
a reform of the modern Christmas. 

I will now emit another brilliant flash of paradox by remarking 
that Christmas occurs in the winter. That is, it is not only a 
feast dedicated to domesticity, but it is one deliberately placed 
under the conditions in which it is most uncomfortable to rush 
about and most natural to stop at home. But under the complicated 
conditions of modern conventions and conveniences, there arises 
this more practical and much more unpleasant sort of paradox. 

People have to rush about for a few weeks, if it is only to stay 
at home for a few hours . Now the old and healthy idea of such winter 
festivals was this; that people being shut in and besieged by the 
weather were driven back on their own resources; or, in other words. 



had a chance of showing whether there was anything in them. 

It is not certain that the reputation of our most fashionable 
modern pleasure-seekers would survive the test. Some dreadful 
exposures would be made of some such brilliant society favourites, 
if they were cut off from the power of machinery and money. 

They are quite used to having everything done for them; and even 
when they go to the very latest American dances, it seems to be 
mostly the Negro musicians who dance. But anyhow, on the average 
of healthy humanity I believe the cutting off of all these mechanical 
connections would have a thoroughly enlivening and awakening effect. 

At present they are always accused of merely amusing themselves; 
but they are doing nothing so noble or worthy of their human dignity. 
Most of them by this time cannot amuse themselves; they are too used 
to being amused. 

Christmas might be creative. We are told, even by those who praise 
it most, that it is chiefly valuable for keeping up ancient customs 
or old-fashioned games. It is indeed valuable for both those 
admirable purposes. But in the sense of which I am now speaking it 
might once more be possible to turn the truth the other way round. 

It is not so much old things as new things that a real Christmas 
might create. It might, for instance, create new games, if people 
were really driven to invent their own games. Most of the very 
old games began with the use of ordinary tools or furniture. 

So the very terms of tennis were founded on the framework of the old 
inn courtyard. So, it is said, the stumps in cricket were originally 
only the three legs of the milking-stool. Now we might invent new 
things of this kind, if we remembered who is the mother of invention. 
How pleasing it would be to start a game in which we scored so much 
for hitting the umbrella-stand Or the dinner-wagon, or even the host 
and hostess; of course, with a missile of some soft material. 

Children who are lucky enough to be left alone in the nursery 
invent not only whole games, but whole dramas and life-stories 
of their own; they invent secret languages; they create 
imaginary families; they laboriously conduct family magazines. 

That is the sort of creative spirit that we want in the modern world; 
want both in the sense of desiring and in the sense of lacking it. 

If Christmas could become more domestic, instead of less, I believe 
there would be a vast increase in the real Christmas spirit; 
the spirit of the Child. But in indulging this dream we must once 
more invert the current convention into the form of a paradox. 

It is true in a sense that Christmas is the time at which the doors 
should be open. But I would have the doors shut at Christmas, 
or at least just before Christmas; and then the world shall see 
what we can do. 

I cannot but remember, with something of a smile, that on an earlier 

and more controversial page of this book I have mentioned a lady 

who shuddered at the thought of the things perpetrated by my 
co-religionists behind closed doors. But my memory of it is mellowed 
by distance and the present subject, and I feel quite the reverse 

of controversial. I hope that lady, and all of her way of thinking, 

may also have the wisdom to close their doors; and discover that only 
when all the doors are closed the best thing will be found inside. 

If they are Puritans, whose religion is only based on the Bible, 

let it for once indeed be a Family Bible. If they are Pagans, who can 

accept nothing but the winter feast, let it at least be a family feast. 

The discordance or discomfort complained of by modern critics, 

in the family reunion, is not due to that mystical focal fire 

having been left burning, but to its having been left to go cold. 



It is because cold fragments of a once living thing are clumsily 
lumped together; it is no argument against making the thing alive. 
Christmas toys are incongruously dangled before heavy and heathen uncles 
who wish they were playing golf. But that does not alter the fact 
that they might become much brighter and more intelligent if they 
knew how to play with toys; and they are horrible bores about golf. 

Their dullness is only the last deadly product of the mechanical 
progress of organised and professional sports, in that rigid 
world of routine outside the home. When they were children, 
behind closed doors in the home, it is probable that nearly every 
one of them had day-dreams and unwritten dramas that belonged to them 
as much as Hamlet belonged to Shakespeare or Pickwick to Dickens. 

How much more thrilling it would be if Uncle Henry, instead of 
describing in detail all the strokes with which he ought to have got 
out of the bunker, were to say frankly that he had been on a voyage 
to the end of the world and had just caught the Great Sea-Serpent. 

How much more truly intellectual would be the conversation of 
Uncle William if, instead of telling us the point to which he had 
reduced his handicap, he could still say with conviction that he was 
King of the Kangaroo Islands, or Chief of the Rango Dango Redskins. 

These things, projected from within, were in almost all human spirits; 
and it is not normal that the inspiration of them should be so utterly 
crushed by the things without. Let it not be supposed for a moment 
that I also am among the tyrants of the earth, who would impose my 
own tastes, or force all the other children to play my own games. 

I have no disrespect for the game of golf; it is an admirable game. 

I have played it; or rather, I have played at it, which is generally 

regarded as the very opposite. By all means let the golfers golf 

and even the organisers organise, if their only conception of an organ 

is something like a barrel-organ. Let them play golf day after day; 

let them play golf for three hundred and sixty-four days, and nights 

as well, with balls dipped in luminous paint, to be pursued in the dark. 

But let there be one night when things grow luminous from within: 

and one day when men seek for all that is buried in themselves, 

and discover, where she is indeed hidden, behind locked gates 

and shuttered windows, and doors thrice barred and bolted, 

the spirit of liberty. 

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